The Unexpected Positives of COVID-19

The Unexpected Positives of COVID-19

Due to the shock of COVID-19, busyness has taken a back seat to the more important things in life.

We’re relatively lucky where we are. For many, the devastation of this pandemic has been the biggest threat since WW2. Our thoughts are with the vulnerable in society and people in countries that haven’t responded as well.

But what’s emerged is an unexpected and welcome appreciation of a simpler life – of family time and personal wellbeing. Will this chapter have a lasting effect or are we just in survival mode?

I was well and truly bored of conversations that started with, “Oh, I’m so busy!” It’d become the maxim of our times and there was truth in it. Many people I know, including myself, were burnt out by the intensity and relentlessness of busyness. It’s so easy for it to dominate our lives.

COVID-19 has become the great leveller. Our competitiveness or subconscious desire to achieve more has relaxed enough to start a different inner dialogue. Our bodies have found new movements, our brains changed patterns, which opens up a renewed creativity. There’s a collective sigh and rare chance to reflect on what we want the world to look like after resurfacing.

Life is now very different for everyone. I’m missing working in the theatre, the collaboration, meeting face-to-face, and time spent developing work in the studio.  All of us in the NORPA team are missing the audiences and their enthusiasm for the shows we make and present.

The first three-to-four weeks, we were simply wading through the shock and stress of another crisis. NORPA, along with the local community, have been through a few; from floods, drought, threats of fire and now this. But we’re resilient. NORPA has seen off many challenges, which have in turn helped us create a plan to get us through another one.

I’m lucky to work with passionate and dedicated people who are personally sacrificing to ensure we survive this financially. We’re all on JobKeeper and as an employer I’m grateful to the Government for this support. Thanks to this safety net, we have 18 staff still engaged and working. But I’m also conscious that many independent artists – the people we exist to support – have been excluded from the rescue packages. The essential workers of our industry are falling through the cracks and this needs to be addressed, urgently.

I haven’t been compelled to set up online content, like readings or workshops. There’s some good stuff out there, but to be honest, after a week of working in front of a computer and endless Zoom meetings, I crave sharing space with other humans, not watching something else online.

Instead, NORPA has used this valuable time for future programming, project development and restructuring. As a team, we’re taking the opportunity to reassess what programming Lismore City Hall looks like, developing a youth theatre hub, and how we engage with more local artists and more communities in the Northern Rivers. We’re already planning our role in the rebuilding of Lismore and our contribution to cultural life in the region.

These unexpected outcomes accumulate, and we eventually settle into a new normal. How will we maintain the positives that have emerged though? When the treadmill starts cranking up again, how will we maintain our own natural pace of life? I hope to return with lessons learned, like investing more in things closer to home and nourishing those around us.

If we’re strong together, we’ll be alright. Resilience might be sparked by individuals, but it’s forged by communities, which is why we all choose to live here.

Written by Julian Louis © 2020