Access speaks to the Founder of virtual art fair The Social Distancing Festival, Nick Green, about the importance of community, and making culture accessible online.
“It’s so easy to feel alone right now. We are in an exceptional time that is being felt around the world,” says Nick Green, Founder of The Social Distancing Festival. “But it is important to remember the value of art and culture, because it gives us an opportunity to think about these times in a different way, to see other perspectives and engage in conversations.”
The Social Distancing Festival is an online hub styled as a virtual arts fair. It collects an impressive variety of culture from across the world, available for free, as well as a heavily stacked calendar of streamed arts events. It features everything from musical performances to spoken word poetry, ballet and virtual art exhibitions.
Green set up the project after a musical he had written was cancelled due to the need for social distancing. He wanted a forum where he and other artists could continue to engage online.
“It started as an idea that I thought would be shared amongst a smaller group of local artists, but has since turned into something that’s spread to many artistic disciplines around the world,” he says.
The unexpected popularity of The Social Distancing Festival has also made Green rethink the accessibility of culture in a digital age. He adds: “I’ve been thinking a lot about the stages, galleries and presentation spaces that exist, and how these are often the forums in which an artist becomes seen as professional or successful. What I’m seeing is that online forums provide an opportunity for artists to showcase their work in larger circles, become accessible to a diverse audience, and engage in collaboration with folks who they would not have otherwise met.”
When asked whether he thinks The Social Distancing Festival has a future post-lockdown, Green is candid in his response: “To be frank, I don’t know where I’m going to get my groceries next week, much less the future of this website. I am going day-to-day with this project, and my plan is to keep going until it doesn’t make sense anymore. I believe that artists are getting a lot of fulfilment out of interacting with the site.”
Regardless of whether it continues in the wake of Covid-19, The Social Distancing Festival is a reminder of the essential role art plays during a crisis, and another example of the resilience of the creative industries. “I hope that [online collaboration] continues alongside live performance in some capacity,” says Green.