Artistes have role to play in COVID-19 fight


ARTISTES around the globe have effectively used innovation and technology to play a critical role in raising awareness about the coronavirus (COVID-19), which continues to haunt our world.

NewsDay Comment

As of yesterday, the world had recorded 3 949 237 cases, 271 785 deaths and 1 358 308 recoveries.

This implies the pandemic is still very much with us and artistes are duty-bound to do more to spread the gospel of social distancing and hygiene through music, which commands a huge following, particularly during times of difficulties.

We could not agree more with Unesco regional office for Southern Africa director Hubert Gijzen when he said recently that billions of people across the world have turned to arts and culture for comfort and to overcome the loneliness brought about by social isolation and keeping to confined spaces.

Although some local musicians have been crying foul due to the stemming of financial streams as public gatherings, including their shows have been cancelled, the most innovative among them have taken to social media to keep entertaining their fans in the comfort of their homes.
This is the time that the most creative players in the entertainment circles can entrench themselves into national consciousness as they continue to entertain fans, while pushing messages on COVID-19 through various online platforms.

Traditionally, artistes have been considered to represent a strong voice by creating awareness and the same is critical during the ongoing campaign against COVID-19.

With Lady Gaga’s Together at Home concert having raised nearly $130 million for COVID-19 relief and Madonna donating US$1 million to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s efforts to fund a vaccine for COVID-19, it is clear that artistes indeed play a crucial role even beyond the stage during these dark moments.

While we appreciate that our local artistes may not be able to raise as much, given that the majority of them perhaps live from hand to mouth, their influence, however, should not be underestimated given the huge following they command.

Critically, this is also the time for local artistes to become skilled in using digital platforms to amplify their role in society even beyond the COVID-19 era. Many international artists sell their work online and this is the future.

It is indeed critical for the artistes to invest in marketing platforms both conventional and digital and building capacity as they learn from their international compatriots so that they can leverage on the current challenges. Creativity must go beyond composing lyrics and playing musical instruments.