The Road To Recovery

It will be interesting to compare and contrast how my new homeland of Lanzarote and my former home, the UK, each find a route to recovery for their respective arts and culture sectors, similarly devastated by the Covid 19 virus.

As Lanzarote’s President and Minister Of Arts And Culture have been exploring all sorts of initiatives to revive our arts and cultural events calendar that had sadly become filled only by cancellations caused by Covid 19, the UK is now following suit. As we know has happened in the UK, we here on the island have enjoyed a tech-led arts scene for the past couple of months with some fantastic work being delivered by indigenous musicians and resident English singers, writers, and musicians. A selection of these artists recently delivered a wonderful virtual concert via social media. What germinated as an idea for a short performance that would raise a few thousand pounds quickly bloomed into a day-long event that raised over 50,000 euros to help those most affected by Covid 19.
My colleague, Suzanne, a fellow contributor to Lanzarote Information, who covers this same Lanzarote arts scene in her contributions, became heavily involved and I cannot compliment her highly enough for last week delivering a brilliant retrospective article about the networking, creativity, logistics and sheer hard work that went in to the production of the concert.

I have recently placed articles here that have spoken of great work being undertaken already on Lanzarote to, wherever possible, digitalise as much of the island´s arts collections at The Cabildo, Cic El Almacen and various galleries around the island and there has been a great deal of sensible talk from both our President and our Minister Of Culture about how this can provide fantastic facilities for school students and life-long learners alike.

I hope, though, that whatever plans they make for the future will take into account the knowledge, enthusiasm and well-stocked skill sets of so many young people who work to not only deliver culture as a tourist attraction but also to sustain our history and re-generate lost arts. I include in their numbers people like Estefanis Comejo, an artist herself, who does so much to promote the visual arts as a ´guide´ at various events and ´Sara de Salinas´ a young lady who leads tourists, and islanders, around Salinas de Janubio.

However, it is good to hear that The Department Of Culture Of The Cabildo de Lanzarote, coordinated by the councillor Alberto Aguiar, reports that from this Monday, May 25, until Friday, June 19, the pre-registration period will open in the Centro Insular de Enseñanzas Musicales (CIEM) de Lanzarote for the 2020-2021 musical education courses.

All persons, aged five and over, interested in receiving a musical training may be included for the pre-registration, and there is no upper age limit. All those who process the subscription will enter a draw to obtain a place. That draw that will be held on Thursday, June 25, at 11 a.m., at ICES headquarters. The results will be published on the website of the Cabildo de Lanzarote from the day after the draw.

The Center offers a wide range of specialties: Music and Movement, Violin, Viola, Violoncello, Double Bass, Electric Bass, Singing, Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone, Trumpet, Horn, Trombone, Bombardino, Percussion, Timple, Piano and Guitar.

Pre-registration can preferably be done online from home by entering the digital certificate issued by one of the certification bodies admitted by Electronic Headquarters or electronic ID or any other means admitted by the competent bodies. These course enable students to approach playing music for the first time, or to learn to play another instrument. Tutorage is excellent and results in the past have been quite spectacular.

Persons who find it impossible to pre-register online can do so in person by requesting an appointment at ICES by calling 928 598 528 / 928 81 01 00 (ext. 3200).

Meanwhile, five new ministerial-led taskforces have been established in the UK to develop blueprints for how and when closed businesses and venues can reopen safely, following publication of the UK government’s National Covid-19 Recovery Strategy to help rebuild Britain.

One such task-force will assume responsibility for re-developing the recreation and leisure sectors and will be chaired by Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Tamara Rojo, of The English National Ballet will sit alongside people like Alex Scott, the former Arsenal and England footballer who has also appeared on Strictly Come Dancing, served as a football tv pundit and co-hosted The One Show.

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England, Lord Michael Grade, former chairman of both BBC and ITV and Mark Cornell, of the Ambassador Theatre Group, are also on the panel. They and Edward Mellors, who runs a group-events organisation, and Baroness Martha Lane-Fox, the founder of will join The Commissioner For Cultural Recovery to form an impressive brains-trust faced with the task of saving a sector that has, itself, suffered as harshly as any during the last few months of Covid 19 even whilst trying to continue to provide some sort of feel-good factor for the nation in these trying times.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden says of this team that it is ´determined to do all we can to help our sectors, that are such an incredible part of British life, in their recovery. The Taskforce is made up of some of the brightest and best from the cultural, sporting and tech worlds. Experts in their fields, they’ll be instrumental in identifying creative ways to get these sectors up and running again.´

The taskforce will be crucial to the reopening of this sector of Britain’s economy but will remain aware of, and adhere to, helps developing COVID-19 secure guidelines for the reopening of public places and businesses, where and when it is safe to do so.
Bearing such caveats in mind, the focus of the groups’ work will be on agreeing and ensuring alignment of all relevant sector-relevant guidance and on providing key sector stakeholders with direct access to ministers.

The first meeting of the Cultural Renewal Taskforce took place on Friday 22 May, and the group will continue to meet on a weekly basis. The work of the taskforce will focus on areas like sport, entertainment and events, museums and galleries, heritage, tourism and libraries.

Those areas are precisely those we cover here on our Sidetracks & Detours blog and which our sister organisation all across the arts also reports on. Since coming to live here on Lanzarote five years I have reported similar events on the pages Miguel affords me on his excellent Lanzarote Information on line service I am looking forward to closely monitoring, comparing and contrasting how the UK and The Canarys Islands each seek to repair the Covid 19 damage.

Whilst the galleries, theatres, libraries and concert halls of Lanzarote provide pieces and performances for the huge number of annual tourists we have developed over the last fifty years, that only happens in the UK in London and a few cities like Birmingham, Manchester, York and Edinburgh, so it is perhaps more difficult for Lanzarote to plan a future whilst still not knowing if and when those tourists might return. The UK can plan ahead with a slightly different mind-set, knowing that even if tourism doesn´t return to previous levels there is still a large enough market audience to revive the arts.

Here on Lanzarote, and in the UK, it will hopefully not only be government think-tanks determining the route and speed of recovery but also those who work tirelessly in a voluntary capacity, facilitating our choirs, for example, or teaching our dance groups.
What can we, in our role as audience members, do?

Well, we ´new residents´ who have retired here from abroad can fully support our arts and culture calendar by integrating as fully as possible with the indigenous population and immersing ourselves in the culture and reassuring the island that there is a demand for the arts to return and that we will be here to support that return. Then, as the calendar fills again with safe, socially-distanced events we can take our courage in our hands and step out into the ´new normal´ and return the island to the vibrancy that attracted tourists in the past, and will do so again. In so doing, we will ensure that the arts will make a massive contribution to the economy and the island´s financial recovery.