Sat | Oct 31, 2020

How creatives can take advantage of pandemic restrictions

Published:Saturday | March 28, 2020 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small/Staff Reporter

The Kingston Creative brand is bold and will persist in its promotion of downtown Kingston as a cultural, artful hotspot even as citizens are asked to keep off the streets in the continued effort to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 viral spread. The brand will persist in the same fashion as many others have recently adopted, with the very first virtual staging of the Kingston Creative Artwalk, this Sunday at 11 a.m. on Instagram.

While speaking at The Honey Bun Foundation Virtual Summit (viz Zoom, Facebook) last Thursday, under the topic ‘Critical Conversations for Critical Times’, artwalk organiser Andrea Dempster-Chung took the opportunity to address the creative economy and offer solutions to them (like the live-streamed virtual artwalk) to support their livelihoods in a time when the interaction they thrive on is limited.

“We need to rethink how we do business,” she said before outlining all the steps creatives can take to bolster their support systems and also maintain the same presence with their audience, albeit, in the virtual world.

From Dempster-Chung’s loaded presentation, here are suggestions for creatives to consider as they lay in wait for the world to return to familiar functionality.

1. Register and formalise.

“Find your union or organisation. Take this opportunity and its downtime to get registered with the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport. If you are not registered, you cannot possibly benefit. They will not know you exist.”

2. Join your industry network.

“Collective action is important. Art organisations and industry groups help by advocating for their members as a collective and disseminating critical information that you may need. You don’t want to be on your own right now.”

3. Identify your curators and tastemakers.

“It’s very noisy out there, and we need to look for the magazines, bloggers, and influencers. Contact these tastemaker groups and curators so that you can remain visible as an artist in this time.”

4. Get training.

“Look for that online training in social media, digital marketing, and e-commerce.”

5. Boost your online presence and network with platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.

“Now is the time to set up all of those accounts.”

6. Launch online sales and delivery options.

“For creatives with tangible products like crafts or clothing, online sales are key to their survival. Every artisan needs to be thinking about how they’re going to advertise their products online.”

7. And offer virtual events.

“We’ve done two years of artwalks. Now, the first one for the third year will be virtual. Don’t be afraid to live-stream. Use those free tools to deliver engaging live-streamed events. If you’re scared, pre-record it and post it up on IGTV later,” Dempster-Chung suggested.

Even as a free tool, there are ways to monetise. She offered suggestions for that, too. Creatives can seek brand sponsorship from the private sector or monetise directly from their audience.

“Invite people who are watching to donate to your PayPal, your Patreon account, or your bank account. People will support the arts, especially if you move them with your creativity. The minimum requirement for this is a smartphone. Any arts practitioner can start live-streaming today,” she said.

kimberley.small@gleanerjm.com