The Impact of Covid-19 on Arts Programing, Practice, and Research

A MasonARC Interview Blog Series

The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted everyday life and practices. While felt around the world, artists and educators in particular felt this disruption acutely and severely. Professionals across settings adapted their work and behaviors to accommodate restrictions and safety practices for the wellbeing of our communities. We are not finished with pandemic restrictions yet; but the adaptations and resilience of the past year can allow for some reflection now, in Fall of 2021. In this series of interviews, the MasonARC team presents the views of 7 experts and highlights how work in the arts persisted in the face of the pandemic.

This series we will present the experience of professionals whose work in arts programming, practice, and/or research was affected by the pandemic. Each post will feature an expert or pair of experts who share how their work changed in the past year, and what they are looking forward to after the pandemic. Blog posts will come twice a month in October, November, and December, with a wrap up just as we approach the new year. Each of our experts has something new to say, and we hope you find their views informative and inspiring.

Expert 1: Muna Shami is the Director of Research and Evaluation at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Her team supports Kennedy Center Education and Kennedy Center Social Impact with program evaluation and conducting research on program outcomes. As arts researchers at the John F. Kennedy Center, Muna and her team have the intent that their research and evaluation work will inform the broader ecosystem, including practitioners in arts organizations, educators, researchers, and policymakers.

Expert 2: Tiffany McGettigan is the current head of the education department at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, a modern art museum located in Washington D.C. As a practitioner, she highly values the unique opportunity to explore the arts provided in an environment separate from a traditional arts education classroom, specifically citing the increased engagement seen in the kids that weren’t as involved in her experience with traditional classroom teaching.

Experts 3 & 4: Lesley Currier is the founding managing director of the Marin Shakespeare Company in San Rafael, California. Dameion Brown is the artist in residence at the Marin Shakespeare company. The Marin Shakespeare Company works to “serve as a vibrant catalyst for cultural engagement, education, and social justice to benefit the people of Marin County, the San Francisco Bay Area, and beyond”. The company presents theatrical performances, and provides education programs in-school, after-school, summer camps, and serves individuals in California state prisons.

Expert 5: Juliet Hess is an associate professor of music education at Michigan State University’s College of Music, where she teaches multiple courses in music education. Her research interests include anti-oppression education, activism in music and music education, music education for social justice, and the question of ethics in world music study. Her recent book, Music Education for Social Change: Constructing an Activist Music Education (Routledge, 2019), explores the intersection of activism, critical pedagogy, and music education.

Expert 6: Emily Cross is a professor with joint appointments at the University of Glasglow and Macquirie University. She earned her undergraduate and PhD degrees in the USA, and is now an international scholar who studies experience in the arts through a neuroscience perspective. One of her primary research pursuits is the study of cognition through dance. She leads a team of researchers at the Social Brain in Action Laboratory who use dance as a way to understand complex human cognition to build an understanding of our neural structure that is associated with the perception and action of performance art.

Expert 7: Bettina Bläsing is a senior lecturer at the University of Dortmund in the department of Music and Movement in Rehabilitation and Therapy and at Bielefeld University’s Center for Cognitive Interaction Technology. Her research examines cognition of the embodied arts across diverse populations including disabled individuals. She has authored several books on arts research including The Neurocognition of Dance: Mind, Movement, and Motor Skills (Psychology Press, 2010) and Performing the Remembered Present: The Cognition of Memory in Dance, Theatre, and Music (Methuen Drama, 2019).


Come back to our blog on October 15th for our first post!

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