information Overload?

Taking the Region’s Pulse
Arts Advocate | August 2020

Intent: To gauge interest in current events during drastically changing times as well as to better understand how the arts can help us cope and bring clarity to our current experience.

Details: After months of quarantine and major societal changes, there has been a lot of competition for our attention. The ever changing times can feel overwhelming and take a toll on mental health. Many have been looking to the arts as a way to escape, relax, and learn more about current events. 


On Monday, August 3, 2020 we asked 4 questions to readers of the Arts Advocate.

Takeaways: 50 responses were captured. Of the current topics presented, most people have focused their attention on learning about COVID-19 and Personal Health and Safety. The next three topics, (2) Social Justice and Anti-racism, (3) Reopening Schools, (4) The Weakened Economy and Job Security were very closely ranked, separated by only a few votes. The Decimation of the Arts Industry rounded out the list. Next, on a scale of 0 (fatigued) to 100 (fascinated) people reported being more fatigued (44) when it comes to keeping up with current topics. 98% believe engaging in or creating art helps to cope with their reality. Similarly, most responders shared positive expressions with art helping them to find clarity to their current experience.


Question 1: Please rank these current topics by how frequently and deeply you are learning about them.


Question 2: So much has changed in a short amount of time. How does trying to stay informed make you feel? (Scale: 0-100)

Question 3: Do you believe engaging in or creating art helps to cope with our reality? Y/N



Question 4: Unprecedented times can feel overwhelming and take a toll on our mental health. How can the arts help provide clarity to our current experience?

An Unranked Top 10 of Responses

All Responses

Definitely a welcome distraction…Last year we traveled to D.C. to see the Cherry Blossoms, which were not yet in bloom, so we spent time in the National Portrait Gallery of Smithsonian, which turned out to be not ENOUGH time. I have since promised myself to return. It is a culmination of the world’s best paintings, and more of the master than I’ve ever seen. Whenever I go to another city, country or rural area, I seek out museums. I would love to visit a museum daily, after this global quarantine. Can’t wait. In the meantime, my perusal of internet art is unending, but nothing like the real thing. The Arts are a perfect outlet especially during trying and depressing times. Creating or viewing art directs the mind from anxiety to focus on hope. Arts might not provide clarity so much as a much needed break and diversion from these overwhelming times.
Diversion from the daily realities. By providing an emotional outlet and/or distraction from the troubling news of the day. Art is a means of escape, expression, and therapy. Whether you are creating something to take your mind away from the devastation, or using it to vent out your frustration, anger and fear, or visiting a museum or performance to escape and let more beauty in – it’s important the arts are upheld as a critical element to our healing and coping. When the pandemic started, everyone turned to the arts as an escape – we need to remember why and what is important.
By taking our attention off the overwhelming amount of information. Gives a total escape from this mess and lets one express their feelings and frustration w/ this situation. By creating beautiful and memorable experiences that transcend everyday travails.
The arts provide an escape, stress relief. I suffer from a very serious mental illness so I can relate to this question. I personally use art as what is called art therapy. I use art as a coping mechanism. When I’m struggling with my symptoms I use art as the vehicle to put me in what I call the zone. This zone is a state of mind that relaxes me but more importantly it helps me go to a place called “no thought”. This zone or “no thought” as I call it is similar to a meditative state that helps me get through very serious and severe symptoms. Doing art allows me to reflect and slow down, to relax into what my hands are doing and let my mind focus totally on something inside me, finding calm.
Relaxes me. Expression of fears, art therapy. Make others aware of feelings The arts are medicine for the soul and spirit. They boost immune systems and even give feelings of great hope for humanity. As important as medicine.
It relaxes your mind and brings you peace. The arts always lift people up. They make them feel something; it is not always good, but it helps them know they are alive. Don’t know how the arts can provide clarity. I just know that listening to classical music or watching musicians of my favorite genres (classical, folk, ’60s, bluegrass, motown, etc.) helps me relax.
By providing opportunities to create or view art can have a positive effect on viewers whether this consists of To Go bags for DIY, window displays where people walk by or pause, billboards, musical presentations online or in personal pods, anywhere where there are TV screens. I don’t really know how the arts can help provide clarity. I do think participation in the arts just enhances your mood. I turn to art for enjoyment during these horrible times.
They can enliven our senses and make us happier. Provide free access and show you are supporting local artists. Streaming classes helps me.
Take a Zoom arts course and be present with people. A form of expression of what we are experiencing. It can be cathartic. Art gives you the freedom to express yourself. You can say things by manipulating the surface that you may not be able to put into words. It is a form of meditation or mental escape. You are taken to a part of you where it is just you, your creativity, and the sound of the pencil on the paper or the paintbrush on the canvas.
Expression of art in all its forms is healing and unifying. My theatre company was decimated March 13th. Yet re-inventing my business has offered extreme creativity in recent months. It’s been stressful and exhilarating. Not sure if all I’m doing is for naught….but I need to try to offer interactive theatre – virtually. People need a sense of community. We need to sing and dance and act – paint and play music. Both children and adults need to express themselves creatively and we need to heal. Artists right now are finding beautiful ways to touch, move and inspire others. Stay safe. The arts can help by centering our minds. They challenge us to reflect and share our emotions. Creative expression can relieve stress and give us new perspective. As an emotional outlet for the artist, and reception of shared experience by others.
I haven’t been derailed from being creative during these troubling times, if anything I’ve been more active. I had opportunities to support friends in the arts who are out of work. My daughter is a recent college grad wanting to work in art but her internship opportunities were cancelled. I keep myself focused and expressing my creativity on a few social network platforms. Give us hope and an outlet for expression of feelings.
Artists that work primary as individuals can still create but there are less exhibiting and performance opportunities. I wonder if there is going to be an explosion of new music and art when we can finally congregate. The arts give me hope and anticipation for the future. Arts provide unique, existential insights into human nature, the natural world, philosophy. I think the arts can provide clarity by actively participating in artistic commentary about these current events. Some of the most memorable pieces of art came from emotions behind things happening in society, and I think by having these types of artwork can help the viewer or listener develop a greater awareness of what is occurring in society.
It helps to focus attention in the present while being a conduit for processing complicated issues, ideas, emotions, and concerns. My experience is the current experiences in social justice and our handling of the pandemic are giving clarity to the arts. Arts can provide clarity by changing nervous/anxious energy into positive experiences which are unique and meaningful to the creator.
It is my profession, so it always brings clarity to my experience. Information and relief. The arts are timeless; our current problems are not.
Participation in a creative process of any form helps unite heart, mind, body, and soul which allows for greater resiliency and freedom when under stress. The arts can provide a pathway for communities to come together, share experiences, and find positive ways to work together. Keep our minds active. The arts is an interaction of ideas and emotion. Human interaction is something we are starved for and need to be fully alive.
Provide understanding beauty caring creativity energy solace community.