This week, as we continue to navigate the ‘new normal’, there is cause to reflect on what we value in our lives. The performing arts industry has crashed to a halt. Theatre shows, plays, concerts, comedy shows and even gigs in the smallest venues have all been cancelled for the foreseeable future, with an estimated financial impact of over $300 million in Australia alone, just from the past three weeks. The viability of many smaller arts organisations is under threat, and representative bodies are actively lobbying the federal government for assistance so that when this crisis passes there will be an arts industry to return to. In the meantime, there are no concerts, no plays, no gigs, no festivals and no musicals to attend.
What does this tell us? It tells us that humanity needs the arts. We crave music. We crave the social aspect of music as both listener and performer. We crave drama, inherent as it to our essential human condition (the role-playing games played by the youngest members of the Carey community in the playground are evidence of this). We want to dance, to be irrepressibly moved by music. Those of us that are fortunate enough to play music, act or dance regularly crave the discipline of practice and the reward of rehearsing and performing together. Part of being human is to express oneself through the arts, be that through singing in the shower or watching Yoyo Ma’s exquisite performance of a Bach Cello Suite, pretending to be a bear when reading a children’s story or watching a superbly executed Shakespeare play.
Although much has been lost in recent weeks, we are finding ways to respond to the need for the arts in our society and our school. Teachers have found new ways to connect with students through a variety of mechanisms. Despite the social distance, they have collaborated more than ever. They have reflected, deeply, on what matters most in arts education and have reaffirmed their passion and principles in the strongest possible way. Professional support staff have been superb in providing teachers with the tools to refine and reinvent their practise.
I am tremendously excited as we head towards what will likely be a surreal holiday break. We will continue to find ways to celebrate the arts as part of our humanity in a distinctly ‘un-human’ context. And when we come together as a community again, the elation of a real performance, to a real audience, in a room, all together, will be transformative. Let’s not forget what really matters to us.
Head of Performing Arts