Arts & Culture in the Time of Coronavirus
Arts & Culture in the Time of Coronavirus
The word fermata means to hold a musical note. Often interpreted as a pause in the music, it serves as an apt analogy for life itself during this time of the novel coronavirus. Our lives are a held note, paused until the music of life continues.
This project, Fermata: Arts and Culture in the Time of Coronavirus, was conceived on March 13, the Friday before spring break. At the time, the public and its governors were only beginning to realize just how devastating the pandemic would become. Broadway had gone dark only two days earlier. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo would not order the shutdown of all essential businesses for another week. For its part, three days before, Syracuse University announced it was shifting classes online but said courses might resume residentially on March 30.
The timing is important because it informs the approach to the project. At the time, the stories in the media were predominately 30,000-foot pieces about the closure of mammoth events, such as SXSW. The coverage had yet to focus on individuals. The idea behind Fermata was to assess the impact on the people who make their living in the arts and culture. But within a few days, assignments shifted from impact to adaptation. How were people coping, adjusting, creating?
Fermata: Arts and Culture in the Time of Coronavirus chronicles our tremulous time. By telling the story of musicians in Nashville, Austin, and New Orleans scrambling to resurrect their suddenly moribund careers, of a Saratoga Springs chef cooking free meals for children, of a Detroit beautician using hair to create art pieces, Fermata chronicles our tremulous time, showcases humanity’s resilience, and affirms that the music of life, not fully silenced even now, will someday return in all its noisy glory.
The coronavirus has cost musicians thousands, and their cities millions, of dollars.
Independent bookstores across the United States are livestreaming author talks and offering signed first editions to engage readers and stay afloat.
With all non-essential businesses closed for the foreseeable future, small fashion boutiques in upstate New York are left to attract customers in unique ways.
In the wake of closures, an Upstate New York deli provides free lunches to children in need.
Music teachers are continuing lessons through video conferencing.
Jazz enjoys a deep relationship with New York City. The city’s clubs and musicians are improvising during these tough times.
The hard-hit manufacturing town of Warren, Ohio, is devastated by the loss, even if temporary, of the Packard Music Hall.
With sales down the drain, small craft brewers are searching for new ways to pump up their businesses.
Sofar Sounds, a company that books musicians into intimate venues, is adapting to a world where isolation has replaced closeness.
The Sunrise Inn Café, a family-owned restaurant in Warren, Ohio, is fighting to adapt to a take-out-only world.
Central New York musicians and venue owners are finding new ways to keep local music alive during social distancing.
Virtual dance parties and raves by DJs help shut-ins party in their living rooms.
Abbey Thurston is a local fashion designer and owner of Abeille, a fashion label. Despite the downturn in overall fashion sales, her business is succeeding.
While the stand-up comedy industry adapts to the pandemic, science shows that humor really is medicinal.
While Cazenovia's Stone Quarry Hill Art Park adjusts to the pandemic, its light-art artist-in-residence sees hope ahead.
Connecticut musician and healthcare worker Bill Benson is hit by coronavirus on both ends
With her metro Detroit shop closed due to the pandemic, Tiffany Moore has transitioned from hairstylist to visual artist, using follicles for inspiration.
Q&A with Hena Kapadia, founder and director of Tarq – an art gallery in Mumbai, India, during the times of Covid-19
Owner Stephen Gritzan of Iris Records in Jersey City, New Jersey, talks about how he’s responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Writer Marion Winik and artist Sandye Renz share tips for working from home.
About this project
Professor Jim Shahin conceived and oversaw this special project, enjoining the students in his Critical Writing class in the Magazine, News, and Digital (MND) department at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Professor Jon Glass was instrumental in producing the package. His Digital News & Innovation class handled graphic development and website production. Victoria Mescall and Patrick Henkels, producers for The NewsHouse, handled daily story coordination. Professor Seth Gitner provided significant support with digital design and CMS development. Harriet Brown’s Magazine & News Editing course helped with copy editing. MNO graduate student Stephanie Macrinos designed the logo and helped with graphic design. MND department chair Melissa Chessher supported the project throughout, contributing encouragement and ideas. Special thanks to the students in Critical Writing, who brought remarkable energy and ideas to the project.