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Performing Public Health: Advisory | Remote Cultures | Unique Precarities

At a time when human bodies are painfully vulnerable on both cultural and physical levels, the Center for Arts in Medicine is supporting an artist-led project that examines how the arts protect human precarities and support relationships. 

Performing Public Health is an initiative within the Center for Arts & Medicine COVID-19 response that considers both the crucial health measures needed to slow the spread of an infectious virus and the various ways artists perform culture-making in response to the disease.

The overall initiative began in conversation with Jill Sonke, in response to a need to provide information for artists and musicians looking to create work responsibly in the context of an epidemic. That grew into dialogues, facilitated by artist Meghan Moe Beitiks, around the way culture is adapting in response to the pandemic, and the knowledges already embedded in the practices and communities of artists who are uniquely vulnerable to the virus.

What’s emerged from this effort is a “Performing Public Health” working group, with three teams:

  • An Advisory Team, developing guidelines for artists and communities looking to gather and practice responsibly. This team includes Virginia Pesata, Edie Moore Hubert and Kaitlyn Wittig Menguc. 

  • A Remote Cultures team, chronicling the ways in which the arts are adapting to social distancing measures. This team includes Aaron Colverson, Katrina Pineda, and Srin Lahiri. 

  • A Unique Precarities team, gathering efforts from both institutions and creative communities in response to the needs of people who are vulnerable to the virus, including marginalized communities, essential care workers, the elderly and pregnant. This team includes Marina Tsapolina and Meghan Moe Beitiks, informed by the work of maxpú hiⁿga miⁿga (charlee huffman) and their collective networks of precarious artists and communities.

All of these overlapping efforts are in dialogue with the COVID-19 Arts Repository, helping to chronicle the “performance” of public health during the time of the pandemic. The team’s efforts have been supported by Mason Keely, Natalie Rella and Chloe Dean. 

How is public health performed? Who is Uniquely Precarious? How are theater, opera, music, dance, adaptingto Remote Cultures? As lockdown measures lift, how can people gather safely for crucial social and cultural experiences? How do we, as artists and culture makers,  protect ourselves and others? How do we collectively Perform Public Health? These are the questions for the project going forward: please check back on these pages for conversations, updates and further resources.

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