I’ve wanted to talk to Nick Green, the Founder of The Social Distancing Festival for a few weeks now.
From his Toronto home, he’s produced a site that aggregates and promotes artistic streams from around the world in an effort to “come together as a community at a time when we need it more than ever”.
Indeed, it’s a particularly dire time for the arts sector: a mid-April survey of UK artists for the a-n (n=4000) indicated that, even in those relatively early days of the pandemic, 96% had already lost income due to Covid-19.
Not only is this site helping support this struggling sector, but it also encompasses a broader shift in how arts brands and content creators are building close relationships with their audiences in the face of prolonged closures and social distance measures – tapping into the impetus behind events like Warner/Songkick’s Playfest or the National Theatre’s streaming of classic performances.
In the below, we chat about Nick’s goals for the site, what community looks like in the Covid-age, and how ‘art’ might evolve in response to this virus…
Building Pandemic-Proof Audiences – The Social Distancing Festival
Hook Research: What is The Social Distancing Festival?
Nick Green: The Social Distancing Festival is a site that showcases and celebrates artists and artistic work that was impacted by the need for social distancing. Artists in multiple disciplines can submit their work, which is then posted on the site under the categories Art, Music, Theatre/Opera, and Dance. There is also a Featured category, which is a curated section for work that has really jumped out to me.
Through the site, artists are able to have their work offered to a large international audience, which has led to new collaborations, attention being brought to other work, and commissions. Viewers are able to discover new favourite artists, explore new genres and disciplines, and share exciting work within their networks.
of UK artists have lost income due to Covid-19
HR: I know building ‘Community’ is one of your key goals for the site – in your opinion, what does ‘Community’ look like in the age of COVID?
HR: What has the response been like from artists and viewers?
HR: From your perspective, are there any positive takeaways from this difficult period? Any long-term learnings?
“What’s ironic is that I have felt more connected to the arts community during this time than I have in several years”
HR: Which streams, in particular, should we be watching on the site? Why do they stand out?
NG: We have many different streams to choose from every day, many of which are new and exciting events, so there’s often an element of taking a chance when you tune in – but that’s part of the fun! You can check out an album release party in Seattle without having to leave your home!
I’d also suggest that if you want to just get a taste of the site without doing a deep-dive, head to the Featured section to see stand-out work in all disciplines from places around the world that include Canada, the US, France, Estonia, Tanzania, Armenia, Mexico, Australia, China, Italy, The Netherlands, and more.
HR: I see you’ve also set up the ‘Long Distance Art’ programme – can you tell us a bit more about this? As the ‘matchmaker’ in this project, what qualities are you looking for in compatible artists?
NG: Long Distance Art is a new project in which I’ve paired up artists in different disciplines from cities around the world. We are continuing with the project, and are open to artists submitting themselves. “We’re learning a lot about the role technology plays in our lives, and how it can serve to pull us all closer together rather than being something that only causes distance and detachment”
“We’re learning a lot about the role technology plays in our lives, and how it can serve to pull us all closer together rather than being something that only causes distance and detachment”
HR: What’s next for you and the Social Distancing Festival?
Thanks to Nick for taking the time to share his thoughts with us!
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Picture Credits (left to right): from Family Fictions by Liz Albert; Nick Green, Founder of the Social Distancing Festival; Dancer Tadhi Alawi