Necessity the mother of virtual invention


The playbill for this weekend’s Isol-Aid. Source: Instagram @merpiremusic

ANCIENT Greek philosopher Plato once said that necessity is the mother of invention, meaning that a need or problem encourages creativity to solve it. The saying has been used at times including the American Civil War, both World Wars and as explanations for the inventions of insulin and traffic lights.

And now the coronavirus crisis has brought this philosophy into today, with people learning to adapt to a self-isolated and internet-based lifestyle.

Music, art, literature and other creative industries are bringing their artforms closer to the world through social media and other online platforms. Theatre companies are among those coming up with creative ways to keep their art alive during such uncertain times.

The Royal Opera House is offering selected productions on-demand for free as well as launching a programme of broadcasts, productions, masterclasses and a look at behind the scenes via their Facebook and YouTube channels. Poet Luke Wright is also combatting the outbreak’s impact on live poetry by performing a poetry set every night on Twitter at 8pm.

Arts and culture streaming platform Marquee TV is also extending the length of its free trials to give access to a variety of theatre, ballet and opera productions. The live music industry has been put on pause, but online music festivals are keeping the love of the industry alive.

Isol-Aid Music Festival in mid-March gave viewers a list of artists participating in the virtual festival and when to head to their Instagram page to see them live stream 20-minute sets. Seventy-two musicians got on board with the socially-distant concept including Stella Donnelly, Spacey Jane and Grace Turner. Isol-Aid’s organiser and musician Merpire said the festival was such a success that they have organised another on March 28 and 29.

“I noticed many friends losing gigs over the past weeks and Instagram seemed like an easy and accessible way to still connect and tagging each other would still help build the music community,” she said. “It took three of us to book the festival. We all had various artists contacts as friends, friends of friends and artists we’d booked for live shows previously, so the list came together really quick.”

The festival encouraged fans, if they could, to donate to Support Act’s COVID-19 Emergency Appeal which helps performers in times of need. The cancellation of Ultra music festival in Miami has also seen musicians like David Guetta, The Chainsmokers and Kygo heading to social media platforms to stream live performances to their fans.

The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, New York’s Metropolitan Opera and the Vienna State Opera are many of the classical music outlets streaming performances to bring their music closer to their followers. The London Symphony Orchestra has also chosen to stream full-length concerts, on Sunday and Thursday evenings, on their social media accounts.

Stay at Home Fest is another online music and events festival offering everything from jukebox dance parties to queer circuses. The festival aims to aid in music and creativity discovery during the global pandemic. Artists are given the opportunity to host their own shows and audiences experience a way to connect to a variety of different creative outlets.

The film industry has also been getting involved, offering early online release dates for movies such as the much anticipated Frozen 2. Netflix is offering a way to watch movies and TV shows with your friends online, by hosting long distance movie nights. The streaming site also offers recordings of several stand-up comedian shows for those who believe that laughter is the best medicine.

Creative industries are not the only ones adapting to the crisis by creating virtual platforms: some gyms are also getting involved, live streaming their classes so members can work out at home.

The world is adapting to the coronavirus interruption and what Plato once observed is true now more than ever: Necessity is still the mother of invention.

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