While many facilities are currently closed for health and safety considerations, SKETCH, a community arts enterprise, has been connecting with the young artists they serve in new and virtual ways. One new project, Art in Pandemic! celebrates the creativity of young people through a series of YouTube videos featuring individual artists while in quarantine.
“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, SKETCH had to move its programs and communication online. One of the first thing we did at SKETCH was to connect with the young people we serve. We quickly realized that a lot of young people were continuing to make art at home and thought it would be great to showcase that creative resiliency. Artists are using art to heal, and cope and deal with COVID-19, in the same way they were using art to get through their everyday battles in life,” explained Paulina O’Kieffe-Anthony, Grants Manager at SKETCH.
SKETCH, as an organization, engages diverse young people, ages 16-29, from across Canada, who live homeless or on the margins and navigate poverty. Seeing the youth they serve actively creating within their homes inspired O’Kieffe-Anthony to write and record a video poem expressing her feelings about the shift in her working environment. The video poem speaks to her feelings of the isolation of remote work, but ends on a hopeful note that SKETCH will be buzzing with activity again in the near future.
The video also inspired the launch the Art in Pandemic! project, where SKETCH artists share their artistic practice and process in light of COVID-19.
Artists share stories and insights into their artistic process, perform and showcase their artforms and connect with new audiences in the Art in Pandemic project. The new project provides a small window into the ability for art to bring communities together, even with physical distancing measures in place.
“For me, as someone who is immunocompromised, art is one of the ways that I distract myself and manage my pain,” explains Pree, a SKETCH artist, as they explain their artistic practice and the Queerantine art challenge (#QUEERANTINEARTCHALLENGE) they devised to help other folks cope through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since moving online, SKETCH also identified technological barriers their community was facing during COVID-19. The team worked quickly to raise money to support young artists with access equipment and resources so they can continue to create art and share it with audiences. In the Giving Tuesday Now campaign on May 5, 2020, SKETCH raised $5,000 for the cause.
Now they are shifting their gears toward supporting young artists during this time of need.
As O’Kieffe-Anthony explains, many of the young artists need help to ensure they have a healthy place to live, access food and hygienic products, and allocating funds to gather the supplies needed to self-isolate safely in their homes. The Art in Pandemic project helps to make this possible by offering artists a paid opportunity to showcase their art while raising funds to supply the broader SKETCH participant community with the supplies to meet their basic needs.