The impacts of COVID-19 have already been devastating on the sense of community, mental health and livelihoods of artists, and arts workers. The STEPS Initiative has facilitated some of Canada’s largest and most community-engaged public art initiatives. At a time when we’re being asked to physically distance ourselves from public spaces and each other, community arts offer a way of mitigating feelings of social isolation, and mental health stressors, while offering innovative ways to facilitate valuable community relationships.
Over the COVID-19 pandemic, STEPS will provide resources for Canadians to initiate creative projects that can be experienced both at a distance by neighbours who are physically distancing, as well as online by a wider audience. The goal of these projects is to offer engagement activities that showcase the talents of everyday Canadians while showing gratitude for their community by sharing their creations. Meanwhile, we will create paid opportunities for artists working in the gig economy who are among the communities most impacted by the current public health guidelines, by hosting a series of paid Calls to Artist to create site-specific works within their homes that respond to the current health crisis and can be shared through online networks, building new audiences for their work.