Saving grace: Arts in a pandemic
MA. ELENA CATAJAN
AS a testament to creativity, artists in the city shows the world, the industry remains afloat in the mountain city. The offerings of Open Spaces VI: Mithiin ng Baguio with online performances and Crescendo: Healing in harmony, a Baguio Day concert, gathered performers who have been hit hard by the pandemic as audience based shows halted the entire industry. Exhibitions from the Ibag-iw, The Tam-Awan Village International Arts Festival and the gigantic mural offering of Venazir Martinez at the PNR compound championed the visual artists resolve to continue creating pieces in these times with pockets of events staged by groups all over the city adding into the eclectic mix of culture and heritage. The UNESCO creative city may be down on its knees with artists and artisans in want of aid and relief but it has not wavered in its commitment to create and inspire. Over 600 creatives catapulted the city to becoming part of the international network of Creative Cities, hailing the mountain city as a creative hub with the objective of fostering innovations and creativity as key drivers for a more sustainable and inclusive urban development. Artist Karlo Altomonte said the group most affected would be the performing artists whose livelihoods depend on crowds/audiences, and the biggest segment in that group would be the local musicians. “Many of them, some even exclusively, rely on their daily gigs to earn a living. And given the current grim outlook, even if or when this ECQ is gradually lifted, it may take a much longer time for big social-cultural gatherings to be allowed. Performing artists, sadly, are looking at months of unemployment,” he added. It was in 2017 when the Baguio City became part of 64 cities from 44 countries under the Creative Cities Network (CNN) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Art is likewise seen as a healing factor in the city, with legislation supporting street art made in a bid to both beautify and stimulate mental wellness, enjoining all local artists and residents to engage in street art to help in mental health awareness as well as to beautify the community penned by advocate Councilor Mylen Yaranon. The project aims to serve many purposes, foremost to showcase the talent of local artists was well as for residents to showcase their artistic side and help in the beatification of Baguio, befitting its title as a Creative City and to provide an outlet for our constituents for the purpose of their mental health wellness, thus, it is vital that the city government of Baguio should support this move and provide for guidelines on its implementation. As the pandemic rages into the yearend, artists will continue to rise above the crisis as a reminder that the arts will survive.