Opinion: how the pandemic and social-justice movements galvanized support for the arts

Posted on: February 3, 2021

“The arts in the past four years have evolved in ways that are as broad and powerful as they are now commonplace,” writes Peter Dobrin in Sunday’s (1/31) Philadelphia Inquirer. “There’s probably not a single major museum, orchestra, or arts center that isn’t thinking about inclusion in everything it does…. The #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements existed before Trump took office, and they developed independent of his influence. But his resistance to social justice gave oxygen to both movements…. The other factor … was the pandemic, notes Jenny Bilfield, president and CEO of Washington Performing Arts … and the way it highlighted differences in access to basics like health care and technology…. Most Philadelphia Orchestra programs these days contain work by a female composer or performer, or a Black artist, or both…. ‘I’ve seen many artists much less interested in arguing about aesthetics now and much more interested in addressing issues of social justice and issues that are important to them,’ says Philadelphia composer David Serkin Ludwig, chair of composition studies at the Curtis Institute of Music…. The arts can be a bridge to other ways of thinking—something that’s sometimes been hard to locate in the dank isolation of a pandemic.”