Spain is currently one of the most affected countries in the world due to Covid-19; and people haven’t been allowed to leave their homes a part from doing essential activities such as going to the supermarket or walking the dogs for the last 40 days. The lock-down in Spain and the declaration of the alarm State started on the 14th of March of 2020. Since that day, just like in many other countries, people started living their lives in a completely different way: at home. People are learning to live in this way trying to enjoy as much as they can and making the most out of it; what people are realizing is that now we are more “connected” than ever. Everyday from home people are video-chatting with family and friends, playing games through video, working from the computer, watching new films, going to school through the computer, watching live concerts online.
One of the industries that are now more present in our lives since we need to stay at home is the cultural industry; through music, videos, TV series, film, books, theatre, painting and entertainment. However, this pandemic is also bringing with it big issues for every country’s economy. In the case of Spain, there are already over 3.5 million people that have lost their jobs because of the Corona crisis. The cultural industry is in decadence and suffering since their economic activity has seriously decreased because of the incapacity to hold performances having a group of people as public or spectators. Since the beginning of the lock-down, artists are uploading their videos, their work, making online live performances, not asking anything in exchange, just to make people feel better. However, they were starting to get disappointed, since the Spanish Minister of Culture and Sports, José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, hasn’t made any economic plan to help the 700.000 people that work in the Spanish cultural industry. For this reason, professionals from this industry started to reclaim their rights for help and the importance of the cultural industry and of their work during these times. The Association of Professional Musicians from the Symphonic Orchestra, the Actors and Actresses Union and the Association of Actors and Professional Directors between others, wrote the following letter:
“Our sector is specific and we need specific measures, that can contribute in order to maintain the business structure, the artists and technicians, that are being penalized due to its intermittence, that make impossible that they can benefit themselves from the social measures that have been approved for the rest of the workers; people and companies that must maintain themselves alive in order to return to the cultural normality once this sanitary crisis is over. The exhibition spaces have been the first to close down and will be the last ones to open its doors. Spanish people, locked in their homes, are mainly consuming theatre, cinema, circus, dance, music and books in order to fight against the anxiety provoked by the Alarm State. Furthermore, all the companies of scenic arts and music, musician and artists have been uploading their materials freely and voluntarily in every platform in order to make citizens take profit of them. We consider ourselves part of the collective, and we are in solitary with the collective”.
In order to make their reclaim visible, the Union of Actors and Actresses organized the Cultural Shot-down, a protest that would be carried out on the 10th and 11th of April, where people of the sector are encouraged to stay quiet on the social platforms, in order to make the whole country feel their absence on the internet. That weekend will be remembered as the artists online revolution, since even though it’s always possible to find cultural material online, it was possible to experience how on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube; thousands of people stopped delivering cultural content to people. This protest makes me think that we can even carry a revolution from home, protest from home and make people listen to injustice from our isolated selves.
Picture from Stay Homas – Barcelona, Spain
Creativity, art and culture have taken birth in many Spanish households. People are sharing their stories, their art and their music through social media. In this hard period of solidarity with the people and the collective; some people are even growing and succeeding with the creations they make from home.
An example of a music project that has flourished from home, are the “Stay Homas”. Three young flatmates, three musicians, decided to start making their own songs about the situation we are living and record them with video from their balcony. Their songs and videos carry a positive message and they adapt into different music styles such as reggae, blues, flamenco, rap or rumba. The very special thing about their project is that they always contact a Spanish musician, and they invite the musician to collaborate in their song. When they are singing, suddenly one of them shows the screen of their phone to the camera, and another musician appears from their home singing. They have over 21 songs now and more than 10 artists have already collaborated with them. Stay Homas have already hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram, brightening their days with new songs full of hope and humour about quarantine. They talk about small details of daily quarantine life such as walking in pajamas all day, missing family and friends, being in love but not being able to see the person we love in quarantine.
Poster for Sant Jordi 2020, celebrating from home
The 23rd of April is a very special day in Catalonia where “Sant Jordi” (Saint George) is celebrated; known as the day of Roses and Literature, it’s the day where love for flowers and literature is celebrated; usually on this day the streets are red because there are so many people selling roses or walking the streets with them. This year, Catalonia has celebrated a different and weird Sant Jordi, where people couldn’t walk in the streets trying to find the most beautiful rose or interesting literature to discover. This year, poetry and roses have been sent virtually on our screens. It was my first year without a Sant Jordi rose; however, I finished the day receiving a message from my mum, with an extract of the most famous book from Spanish literature; the Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes, a book from the 17th century. The extract is from the first part of the 14th chapter of the book, it’s a dialogue between the Quixote and his friend, Sancho, that says like that:
“You should know, Sancho, that all these storms that are happening are just signals that are showing us that soon the weather should serenate again, and that good things should be occurring to us, because it’s not possible for the good or the evil to be long-lasting, and from this point we know that when the evil has lasted for a long time, the good is getting closer to us”
After 40 days of lock-down in Spain, Spanish people have realized that through music, art, literature we can all empathize with each other, give company and love to each other, connect and release the stress and anxiety from the crisis. They have also realized that it is still possible to make a revolution and protest from home for their rights, and that is still possible to send roses to each other, even though it’s in a virtual way. Culture should never be underestimated since it’s a source of emotions for humanity.