No corner of our planet is likely to remain untouched by the effects of the Covid-19 crisis.
The virus itself has taken lives, wreaking grief, fear and confusion. The subsequent lockdown has already destroyed jobs and businesses and threatens to destroy many more. An age of radical uncertainty has rushed in on us.
Nobody, anywhere yet understands the full scale of damage or knows what will happen next.
The cultural and creative industries - in the UK and globally - have been particularly hard hit. Among the first sectors to shut their doors, they may be among the last to come out of lockdown. The very existence of large parts of the sector is under threat, depending as they do on human congregation and on an ecosystem of freelance creatives and small businesses.
Over the past weeks we at BOP have attempted to ensure the safety and well-being of our people, whilst adapting to new ways of working. Some of us have experienced illness. Some have lost loved ones. All of us have witnessed at first hand the human toll of the crisis. Yet we have surprised ourselves: with our adaptability, emotional resilience and good humour. And we have been inspired by our clients and partners: their resolve, empathy and creativity.
As our collective thoughts turn to exiting the lockdown, there is a common theme to all our conversations. We may not know what will happen next, but we have a pretty good idea of the three steps we must take out of the crisis:
- Relief. Surviving (or not). Ensuring the health and well-being of staff. Accessing national, local and sector support measures (a particular challenge for the creative sectors). Starting to plan the next two steps. Re-evaluating vision and purpose.
- Recovery. Adapting and experimenting. Re-launching some activities. Experimenting. Planning for different scenarios, including future shocks. Building new relationships. Continuing to access external support.
- Renewal. Re-booting. Restructuring. Rolling out new plans and models. Building in resilience for the next crisis.
Between Steps 1 and 2 the main question switches from ‘what can our country do for us’ to ‘what can we do for our country’? At each step there will be losses to bear, impossible decisions to make and big questions about our institutional and political capacity to agree on and work for the collective good.
In upcoming blogs we will be coming back to these questions as we work through them with our clients - and how they apply to practitioners, organisations and the sector as whole as well as to funders and government agencies.