How to Stay Creative in a Pandemic

By Barbara Salsberg Mathews

How does one stay creative in a pandemic? Being creative during these unusual times can be challenging. For some, all their time and energy may need to be focused on surviving. Others may discover a new creative vein as a result of living a different routine. This got me wondering how other Guelph artists stay creative in a pandemic. So I asked this question of six local artists from various disciplines, to learn what worked for them.

Lauren Stein, an actor, writer and therapist keeps creative with daily routines and writes a lot. “I'm still editing the book I'm about to publish. I also have a daily writing practice that I send out by e-mail. I'm counting the Omer, and for each day I look at a pair of Tarot cards, journal and share about it.” Stein writes that having a schedule is helpful. For example, she goes for her daily walk at 4pm. Each morning she avoids all screens, and does reading and does journaling.   

Lauren Stein Photo by Gili Getz
Lauren Stein. Photo by Gili Getz

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VERSA - "Love What is Left"

Written by Alex Ricci

Focus, deep breathing and being present are the artistic tools we have been most concerned with honing as of late. As dreamers and wanderers, the shackles of isolating at home over the past three months have felt particularly disruptive to free-flowing creative expression. I truly appreciate how inspiring it is to be around other creators and absorb the energy of watching a music performance or discussing an exhibition, and how those experiences just can’t be convincingly replicated on a live-stream. Lucky for me, I’ve been isolating with my main creative partner, and through ample frustration, creator’s block, and wondering if the art world will ever be the same, we’ve supported each other and kept each other sane. As some readers will know, VERSA is a multidisciplinary collab between myself and Monika Hauck. We do immersive music and projection performances, along with media installations, marbled printmaking and visuals for other musical artists.

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VERSA Promo Photo. Photo by Talia Ricci

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Little Bites: Tastes from Isolation

By Lynn Broughton, Founder Taste Detours & GAC Member

Like many businesses, Taste Detours ground to a halt by mid-March. Food became everyone’s obsession in these early pandemic days. If we weren’t trying to find it, we were seeking to make it. Stress baking, quarantine baking — that need for calm could be satisfied by following step-by-step instructions. This notion of a virtual cookbook sprang to mind for several reasons: What else was Taste Detours to do? Boxed food delivery services weren't what we did. The restaurants and food purveyors were facing severe losses, and fast, so there was an urgency to help keep our local, independent food friends top of mind while attempting to remain relevant ourselves. Something for free was a nice thought in this time of panic too. Ultimately any idea needed to be true to the mission of the company; thus Little Bites:Tastes from Isolation Cookbook was born.

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Cover page Little Bites: Tastes from Isolation by Jenna Kessler

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The Eden Mills Writers Festival In Your Own Backyard: Online Event Series

By Melissa McGrath, Festival Manager

Not long ago, it would have been impossible to imagine offering an online festival in lieu of our beloved annual gathering in Eden Mills. And yet, here we are, and we’re thrilled with the result. The EMWF, reimagined as an online event series, runs until October. The series will showcase more than sixty writers as part of twenty-one events, including book clubs, panel discussions and presentations for children.

We made the decision to move to online programming at the end of March, wanting to be proactive in our planning. We wanted to ensure that we’d able to provide our audience with the same quality of literary programming they had come to expect, and that we’d be able to provide Canadian writers with opportunities to promote new releases. And there are so many wonderful new releases! We knew we couldn’t miss out on sharing them.

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Local authors featured at the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival include (clockwise from top left) Madhur Anand, Mike Chaulk, Anna Cox (photo by Joanna Degeneres) and Clifford Jackman (photo by Antoine Tanguay).

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