CREATIVE SECTOR ROLE IN COMMUNICATING ABOUT COVID-19

DO YOU SPEAK ABOUT COVID-19?

On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization announced that COVID‐19 was characterized as a pandemic—a global first for coronavirus. 

The scale and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic has clearly risen to the level of a public health threat that could justify restrictions on certain rights, such as those that result from the imposition of quarantine or isolation which limit freedom of movement.

As dangerous as the virus is, the WHO communicated ways to prevent the spread and flatten the curve. However, millions of marginalized people lack basic information about how to keep themselves and their communities safe and well. Many messages are transmitted in languages that are not spoken by some people. For example, there is very little use of African languages in communicating about COVID-19. Moreover, the low levels of literacy and inaccessibility and of information technology platforms are a hindrance.  Furthermore, some don’t know what to do if infected and why to do it. As a consequence, they might not be able to make informed decisions about how to behave. This lack of knowledge leads to the spread of the corona virus.

The Constitution of Kenya  brought a more liberal approach and provides for the right of access to information under Article 35. Every citizen has the right to access information held by the State and held by another person and required for the exercise or protection of another right. The creative sector can support access to information by using various communication approaches.

Covid-19 needs to be better understood by all people so that can make informed decisions. Information about COVID-19 ought to be transmitted in simple and easily accessible formats. African countries need to provide continuous education and awareness to their populations on the need to keep physical distancing, washing hands with sanitizers or soap frequently, and wearing masks.

We recognize that proficiency in world languages is essential tool for twenty-first-century citizens who increasingly need to communicate with the rest of the world. However, these languages are not spoken across the board. Marginalized communities in Africa, the Pacific Islands and South America marginalized – like all – have a right to clear, accurate, and accessible information about the disease and response efforts. They need information in a language and format they understand. It must also be presented in a way that is relevant to them, and available in a channel they can access and trust.

Women, older people, and people with disabilities in particular often have fewer educational opportunities and are less likely to speak or read a second language. Language barriers definitely leave these groups out of the loop during campaigns about the pandemic.

A new initiative from medical students and physicians at Harvard Medical School aims to help members of these communities by translating fact-based Covid-19 information. The initiative, known as the Covid-19 Health Literacy Project, has already translated essential Covid-19 information about prevention and possible treatment options, among other issues, in over 35 languages, including Navajo, Oromo and Kiswahili.

Where infection control limits face-to-face communication, social media, SMS services, call centers, television, and radio will be essential channels. Yet these can risk exacerbating inequalities and feelings of exclusion for some marginalized groups. Women, older people, people with disabilities, and less educated people are less likely to have access to mobile phones and the internet due to cost, connectivity and other factors.

The format in which information is presented affects how well it is understood. While even those who cannot read value written text, many people find pictorial, audio, and video content easier to understand. This role is well executed by the creative sector. They can also play a vital role in debunking misinformation, fake news, misconceptions and myths. Through storytelling, poetry, music, drama, film, visual art and other formats the sector can reduce COVID-19 related stigma and encourage people to get tested.  

 During pandemics, people look for inspiration from different places. Art can be a vital source of inspiration because art it is a universal language which informs, educates and entertains easily. Unlike other language which require a special blend of motivational and cognitive strategies which are impossible during a world emergency, art forms can be the channel for global and local communication.

Therefore, creative practitioners ought to be supported in order to develop content in the widest possible range of local languages, including formats suitable for the most vulnerable individuals 

HOW LOCKDOWN IS OPENING DOORS FOR NEW CREATIVE TALENT

The world has changed dramatically over the first three months of 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic impacting almost every aspect of our lives. These changes have been clearly evident in the world’s digital behaviors too, especially as billions of people turn to the internet to help them cope with life as they work under lockdown.

Data Reportal analysis indicates that 4.57 billion people now use the internet, an increase of more than 7% since this time last year. Social media users are growing even faster, up by more than 8% since April 2019 to reach 3.81 billion today. 

Global social media use hasn’t quite reached the 50% penetration mark yet, but the latest trends suggest that is should reach the mark by end of 2020.

As people spend more time in their phones there has been a Big jumps in digital activity, we are looking at a generation of Lockdown stars.

Social media organizations have also come up with policies that aim to promote creativity and earn: Facebook recently announced on its Facebook Business page that you can now earn by simply going live on Facebook and YouTube now allows creatives to earn from content they produce around COVID-19.

As the environment is becoming more favorable, the ball technically now lies in the arms of creatives as pressure now arises to create fresh and new content every day.

A lockdown star, Moses Murage aka Zj Avexy raised Sh 430,000 in a live set in the now popular “254 Diaspora Djs Live on the Mix. Viewers were touched with his plight as he was the first deejay in the group to just use a laptop to entertain. The money was to help him buy proper equipment.

It was just a rainy day for Moses, but social media changed it.

With no gigs and bookings, it’s easy to lose hope but, the numbers don’t lie; the internet is flooded, an average person spends 4 hours a day in the internet, great opportunity to be a Star, if you use your social media aggressively.

It might not solve all your problems, but hey!! You will survive corona and you will have a name out there.

COVID-19 Resilience: Creative Industry Options and Strategies

Report by HEVA FUND

Concerned by the impact of the pandemic not only on physical health now, but on the livelihoods of creative industry practitioners in Kenya and in East Africa—especially those in live music and events, film, tours and tourism, general cultural heritage work, gaming, and other immersive experiences, fashion, and apparel, and more.

We took immediate steps to mobilize a creative and cultural sector response effort:

  • With a view to understanding the impact (short, medium, and long-term) of the pandemic;
  • To anticipate sector emergencies and needs, as well as to promote effective and evidence-based interventions.

We developed a sector needs analysis questionnaire, which we distributed on March 26th, 2020. It received over 510 individual responses from across the country—an exercise necessary for the development of an initial creative sector baseline. The findings were presented for internal review on April 8th, 2020, and then validated on April 29th, 2020, by 21 industry and association leaders representing several practitioner associations, national organizations, and leading creative sector agencies.

DOWNLOAD THE COVID-19 Resilience report : https://bit.ly/3c6hVyZ

Online Binge festival

Are you a creative and would like to showcase your work while staying at home? Take part in the online binge festival that is running from 1 – 25 May 2020 by uploading content from the listed genres to http://authenticmedia.com

5 WAYS TO STAY INSPIRED DURING THE QUARANTINE

As the coronavirus quarantine continues, it can be difficult to maintain enthusiasm for work and the inspiration to create, one of the biggest struggles people are having while being quarantined is staying productive.  It’s easy to start spending entire days in your pajamas. But, unless you’re feeling sick, experts say it’s worth it to put some clothes on.

But how do you make sure you maximize your productivity during the quarantine? Here are some tips.

Wake up early

Sleepy woman reaching holding the alarm clock in the morning with late wake up – every day life at home concept

It is important to wake up early and prepare your day. This is a time to make coffee, cook breakfast, and get dressed. Doing your regular morning routine helps boost your mood and allows your mind to switch from “home” to “work.

Design a daily routine

Woman checking the calendar

The keyword here is flexible, following a routine during a lockdown can be tough, but it in these situations, having a schedule is important to maintain productivity and have a sense of direction.

Set the conducive office set-up

 Separate your work space from the spaces you use to relax and unwind. Your space should ideally be quiet and have ample natural light. Confine your workspace to a specific area in your home so your job doesn’t intrude into the lives of other household members and you can concentrate.

Avoid destructions

Taking regular timed breaks allows someone to avoid wasting time during your work time. Learn to separate personal from professional. Reduce your sedentary time by standing up whenever possible. Ideally, aim to interrupt sitting and reclining time every 30 minutes. Consider setting up a standing desk by using a high table or stacking a pile of books or other materials, to continue working while standing. During sedentary leisure time prioritize cognitively stimulating activities, such as reading, board games, and puzzles.

Communicate with your colleagues

Photo of amazing young woman sitting indoors on bed talking by phone. Looking aside.

Gives room for clarification, Uncertainty fuels anxiety. The more you Communicate and share, the less chance there is to develop an information vacuum within your team., Sociometric research proves that shorter communication cycle times are more effective in building and sustaining morale and engagement.  

The Importance of Music in Our Society

It goes without saying that in mainstream Kenyan culture, music is a huge part of people’s lives. Music is a constitutive part of the culture and hence is important for individual and social identity formation. Music has and always will affect the culture of the world. Music is a direct interpretation of culture.

Although culture continues to change rapidly with the advancements in technology, music will always connect the people of the world and share a special aspect of each culture with one another. Every culture in the world has its own form of music that is enjoyed by all ages on every continent.

Music is an expressive language of culture. It often tells a story, expresses emotion, or shares ideas with society. Before written word music was used as a form of historic record. For example, a tribe would use music to tell a story, teach a lesson, or celebrate a successful hunt.

Songs accompany marriage, birth, rites of passage, hunting, and even political activities. Music is often used in different African cultures to ward off evil spirits and to pay respects to good spirits, the dead and ancestors.

The music reflects the cultural characteristics of a society. This is however gradually disappearing, as Musicians are focusing majorly on music from America and beyond, and slowly the fear of deterioration of culture erupts.

7 REASONS WHY MUSIC IS IMPORTANT TO WORLD’S CULTURE

1. It Makes it Easy to Celebrate

Music is played at every type of celebration, which includes weddings, graduations, and birthday parties. It’s considered to be a way to have fun and let out joy or excitement that you may be experiencing in the moment.

2. Music is a Form of Expression

Musicians are known to express themselves through song and melody to convey how they’re feeling in life, which allows listeners to relate and find comfort in the music.

3. It Allows Us to Dance

Music prompts people in every culture around the world to dance and express how they feel with movement.

4. It Continues to Evolve

Music is never stagnant and continues to change and transform in each time period. Artists often learn various melodies and sounds from historic music and alter it to make it contemporary.

5. It’s an Art Form

Those who are creative and need an outlet can create different types of music, which allows them to put art out into the world and share it with other individuals. It’s something to be shared that is unifying because people can relate to the songs and feel inspired by it.

6. Music is Intimate

Music is incredibly intimate and allows artists to convey a message or emotion that they may not be able to communicate with their words and reveals a deeper part of who they are.

7. It’s a Form of Communication

Many people struggle with communicating with others but can say how they feel with a song that they write or have heard, making it easier to express themselves without having fear or intimidation.

Although most people have their own preference for the type of music that they enjoy listening to, each culture can agree that the tunes are an important part of life by expressing ourselves as human beings. By appreciating the art form, it makes it easy to unite and relate to others who are different than ourselves

OVERCOMING MENTAL ISSUES DURING THE LOCKDOWN

COVID-19 could lead to an epidemic of clinical depression, and the health care system isn’t ready for that, either.

As the number of coronavirus infections continues to rise, the likelihood more people will need to self-quarantine or self-isolate is becoming evident.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people self-quarantine if they are concerned they may become ill following possible exposure. Those who are actually sick with COVID-19, the new strain of coronavirus, should self-isolate, so as not to spread the disease to cohabitators. The recommended time period for both conditions is 14 days.

Quarantining yourself at home can play an important role in preventing the spread of infectious diseases. But this doesn’t mean that coping with the disruption in your normal routine is easy. While quarantine may be only temporary, even brief periods of isolation and loneliness can have negative consequences on both physical and mental well-being.

Quarantine is an effective way to prevent the transmission of infection but is potentially a source of stress from fears of infection and long isolation, frustration, boredom, inadequate information and supplies, financial loss, and stigma.

Effects of Past Quarantine Measures

While each circumstance is unique, looking at past events can provide a look into the psychological impact that quarantines may have. 

Between 2002 and 2004, more than 15,000 people in Toronto voluntarily went into quarantine due to exposure to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). SARS, like COVID-19, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus.

For a period of around 10 days, these individuals were asked not to leave their homes, not to have visitors, to wear face masks around other family members, to avoid sharing personal items, and to wash their hands frequently, among other measures. Later research indicated that quarantined individuals experienced a range of both immediate and short-term psychological consequences.

In addition to the feelings of social isolation during quarantine, participants reported longer-lasting psychological distress for around a month afterward. Almost 29% of participants displayed PTSD symptoms, while 31.2% had depressive symptoms.

CAUSES OF MENTAL ISSUES DURING THE QUARANTINE

Interpersonal isolation

Prolonged Isolation  – our primary strategy to reduce the spread of the virus – adds another layer of risk. Our bodies are not designed to handle social deprivation for long. Past studies suggest that people forced to “shelter in place” will experience more depression. Those living alone and lacking social opportunities are at risk. 

Financial difficulties

The biggest stressor for many is financial. Unemployment and Economic losses will be severe. Research on post regression suggests that rising unemployment and financial insecurity lead to increased rates of depression and suicide. 

Possible Mental Health Effect of Coronavirus Quarantines

A 2019 review in The Lancet analyzed the results of past studies to get a better idea of how COVID-19 may impact those who are quarantined. The review found that psychological distress is common both during and after periods of quarantine. People commonly experienced:

There is some evidence that there may be longer-term consequences as well. Substance and alcohol dependency was more common up to three years after quarantine.

Things You Can Do to Cope

Researchers suggest that there are steps that may help mitigate some of the negative mental health effects of quarantine.

Establish Routines

Be proactive and layout an intentional structure for your day.

The disruption in your normal daily routines can be one of the most difficult aspects of quarantine. This can leave you feeling directionless as you try to figure out how to fill all the hours of the day. 

If you’re working from home, it can be helpful to structure your time much like a regular workday. This can be a challenge, however, if you’re at home with other family members, including children, who are now home all day as well. Left without the structure of a normal school day, kids can be left feeling just as out-of-sorts as adults.

If you’re trying to keep small kids entertained while stuck in the house, or even trying to keep working amidst it all, it’s important to find a routine that works for you. Plan out activities that will keep everyone busy so you can get some work done. Try creating a daily schedule, but don’t get too wrapped up in sticking to a strict routine. Make your own routines and break up the day in order to stave off monotony

Create

Anxious thoughts can be more difficult to escape in sustained isolation, such as the widespread lockdown measures due to the coronavirus pandemic, but arts and crafts have been shown to help distract from these feelings.

Creating something for ourselves and others also helps our sense of self-efficacy, or the belief in our own abilities according to Clinical neuropsychologist Katie Carey Levisay, who runs a private practice in Denver, Colorado. Using time purposefully has also been linked to lower depressive symptoms.

“The rewarding experience of creating, sharing, and using our time well all stimulate the reward centers in the brain to release ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters (dopamine) and our endogenous opioids (endorphins),” she said. 

Be Physically Active

Even relatively short periods of physical inactivity can have an impact on your health, both mentally and physically. One study found that just two weeks of inactivity could lead to reductions in muscle mass and metabolic effects.

Fortunately, there are plenty of at-home workouts that can help keep you moving even when you are stuck inside the house. Your quarantine may be brief, but staying active may help you feel better and maintain your fitness levels. It’s also a great way to help combat the sense of malaise and boredom that can come from being stuck inside day after day.

At-Home Workout Ideas:

·         Exercise videos

·         Bodyweight exercises

·         Online workouts

·         Fitness apps

Communicate 

Staying in contact with other people not only staves off boredom, but it is also critical for minimizing the sense of isolation. Stay in touch with friends and family by phone and text. Reach out to others on social media. If possible, join a support group or discussion board specifically for people who are in quarantine. Talking to others who are going through the same thing can provide a sense of community and empowerment.

 Beware of Too Much Social Media

Use social media wisely. No doubt, social media is your friend when isolated. But resist scrolling through Facebook and Instagram endlessly; that won’t really feed your need for connection, but has been shown in some studies to actually make people feel left out or “less than.” Instead, use social media to meaningfully connect. Plan weekly (or even daily) group video chats with friends, family, neighbors or colleagues. Social connection is one of the most important drivers of well-being.

 Shift Your Mental Space

Finally, use principles of mindfulness to shift your mental stance from frustration about the situation to curiosity. Take on the mindset of an anthropologist or journalist observing a social experiment. Keep a journal (written, sketches, or video) of your experience during quarantine – what you did and how you felt day-by-day. Taking on this stance will give you a little distance, which can reduce distress, as well as keep you open to the positive or simply interesting things that may happen during this very unusual experience

HOW CREATIVES ARE HANDLING THE LOCKDOWNS AROUND THE WORLD?

Coronavirus isn’t just a public health crisis, it’s an economic one, the financial impact of the pandemic hasn’t been evenly distributed.

 As quarantine life in many countries around the world takes full effect, a lot is happening in the creative ecosystem, which is forcing creatives to change the way they work.

With everything on a standstill, Internet Culture is On the Move and seems to be growing at a very high rate. This has led to a new breed of creative influencers to emerge online. 

The explosive growth of content on social media both from new creators and from established makers demonstrates the power of the arts as a tool for expression. 

Social media platforms including YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram are reaching out to their creators all over the world to continue to make engaging videos during the lockdown as users turn to social media for entertainment.

On the other side, the Google-owned platform has kicked off a live series to enable creators to engage with their audience and has curated multiple playlists around popular themes like music, acting, cooking, workout, and dancing. It is conducting webinars to handhold creators with ideas around content creation during the lockdown and sharing tips on how to shoot indoors with minimum equipment and indoor lighting.

YouTube said average global daily uploads of videos with “at home” in the title increased over 590% since March 15th compared to their average uploads for the rest of the year.

 Creatives are working hard to make sure they are maintaining their creativity by constantly sharing their work, grow their audience, and most importantly earn from it.

The following are some ways creatives are following to maintain their audience and grow their brand during the Lockdown.

 Online event

Very popular in Kenya.

The audience is craving entertainment while being quarantined at home. This is where Facebook Live or Instagram Live comes in handy. It’s a great way to keep the audience engaged and build goodwill, as well as to sell your products. 

Some creatives Offer a special discount code to the first 100 people who stream your live event or create an “exclusive” behind the scenes look at a new product to customers on your email list.

Diversification 

During the lockdown, creatives have no other way to get income apart from going live and sharing their work., Creative entrepreneurs are seeking innovative ways of generating income during this period. While traditionally they would rely on physical performances, advertisements, and other avenues, these are becoming increasingly difficult to negotiate. Currently, four main streams are being used to create revenue: donations, merchandising, streaming, and endorsements.

Creatives pin their Mpesa, PayPal, or cash app on their live streams this allows them to accept donations. Other creatives are actively Selling Merchandise and products from their online channels.

 Other channels like Vimeo and youtube pay creatives according to the number streams: the more numbers in a stream the more money.

 Some organizations are approaching creatives because of their online numbers for advertising, e.g Dettol soap is actively using creatives in creating awareness on the COVID_19 and sensitizing their audience to use Dettol soap.

COMMUNICATION

Social media allows creatives to communicate proactively with their customers

The situation is evolving rapidly, and no one is quite sure what news each day will bring, social media, however, has played an important role as a communication channel.

This allows one to grow the audience. Getting the attention is helping creativity grow as a brand and following.

 New Content

With people world over having more time at home and a desire to be distracted from the dreary repetition of quarantine, coupled with a need to be entertained and informed, there has been an explosive growth in the quantity of content created and shared. 

There has never been a more perfect nexus of demand for content and, thanks to the internet, a means to distribute that content to such a wide audience.

The flooding of content on the internet during the Lockdown is a motivation to creatives to create fresh content suited to the current situation.

There is a lot of noise and nonsense on the Internet, but there are also some valuable gems too, and when the audience comes across them, it’s like someone lit a fire on a winter night in Iceland. People around the world are looking for great entertainment. Therefore, this poses a great challenge to creatives in Kenya and the rest of the world, who are looking to be that fire.

Creatives around the world have been actively creating content around COVID-19 so as to bring awareness to the pandemic.

PROMOTE EXISTING CONTENT (DIGITAL MARKETING)

Going digital with your services helps to continue to provide access to your audience who are sitting at home, wishing they could support your business.

Creative are Taking Advantage of the Online Courses

Creatives are taking time to learn from other creatives, from the available material on the internet. Classes like Branding, marketing, and how to use social media as an alternative source of income.