Holton says: 'The cream is rising in the arts world - Humanity Will Make It.'

opinionred 100x100By Margaret Lindsay Holton

May 5th, 2020



I was asked by the editor for my opinion about “where the arts are going with the virus getting in the way of everything.”

Ok.  This is where I think the arts are going …

The arts are exploding at the moment. Previously under-paid and unpaid TALENT is foregoing the traditional means of gaining venues, exhibitions, funding, acceptance & credibility through mainstream society. Instead, they are moving over to internet streaming services to connect, learn, engage and get paid from the #screenaddicted.

And it’s going completely tribal. Creative hubs are emerging and coalescing around talent.

Listen > https://open.spotify.com/track/1p8npYnb9vbm8JdWwkwjaT

Watch: https://youtu.be/F5pgG1M_h_U

The cream is rising.

As example, on Twitter, a vibrant, international #writingcommunity ~ (with the best being unabashedly local), is tearing up how thoughts are shared between others.

There are now incredible opportunities to meet some of the best minds thinking about our era and current predicament. (Supplied links in bio profiles connect you to immediate purchase options if you want to pursue their thoughts further.)


Margaret Atwood – has a huge following.

But note, some authors are more engaging and engaged than others. In literature, Stephan King, J.K. Rowlings, Margaret Atwood and Diana Gabaldon are heavily followed so the chance of a one-on-one interaction, or reaction, with them is near nil. Surprisingly interactive ‘thinking’ twitterers are Robert McFarlane, Colette of ‘Bealtaine Cottage’ and Canadian business woman, Arlene Dickinson. All the above are worth following.

Arlene Dickenson

The Arlene Dickinson profile began with a television program – she has used social media to maintain and built on that and is now seen as a savvy successful business woman

Next is Youtube. To give you an idea of how good it is, I seldom watch Netflix at all anymore. I subscribe to channels by personalities or institutions that compliment my varied interests. A favourite of mine is the Oxford University Debating Society. They bring in guest speakers, to an oak podium or armchair, interview them, then open up the floor to questions from mostly undergraduates. Stephen Fry, Elon Musk, the founder of LinkedIn, and controversial Katie Hopkins of the U.K. have all spoken. It keeps the mind ticking.

Twitch is busy with the below 30 crowd. I’m not on it. Example: https://twitch.com/camilladerrico

Next is Instagram. For visual artists it’s both a gods-send and a devil’s curse. A gods-send because they can post their work. A devil’s curse because they can post their work.

Instagram is the great visual equalizer. Authenticity and talent is immediately evident. When you realize that the eye decides faster than the word, it’s clear there is a lot of junk that pretends to be ‘art’ on Instagram. No-one has to waste their time with those ‘art’ accounts. Instead, satisfy your visual hunger and follow WHATEVER interests you. Example, there are plenty of innovative and fascinating people around the world producing amazingly practical ideas for their communities ~ and none are “artists” in the ‘traditional’ sense of the word. Meaning, a skilled furniture restorer who shows his meticulous repair work on a stunning 18th century marquetry-inlaid English armchair is lightyears ahead of the imagery of a smeary graffiti artist who yells, yet again, about the ‘angst-of-the-artistic’.

#Photographers (amateur and professional) do very well on Instagram. Just remember that photographers are primarily framers not creators. So, look THROUGH the photos to understand what philosophical perspective the photographer is trying to sell you. ~ Example: Do they honour and pursue beauty, or are they all about the ugly? Ask yourself: why? Follow accordingly. Then, explore some more …

Finally, Facebook. Facebook is like your lovely Aunt’s cozy and inviting house. It’s always fun to visit, to catch-up, to joke and reminisce with family and friends. But you don’t live there. Artists will readily share their work there, looking for ‘Auntie’s approval’, but they definitely go elsewhere for ‘intensity’.

The best ‘art’ IDEAS, in my opinion, at the moment, are found on Twitter and Youtube. Lesser known mainstream news links are popping up and trending under #hashtags on Twitter, like The New Yorker Magazine with this insightful piece under hashtag, #COVID19 ~ ‘The Coronavirus & Our Future’.

As for some of the other sites, like TikTok of WhatsApp, I am not on those platforms, so, cannot comment. Perhaps someone else could add their two cents about those platforms. Personally, I don’t know any notable thinkers active over there. If you know of any, kindly supply links.

We’ve seen examples above of how artists are adapting in the short term. But how will #COVID19 impact the arts and the local, national and global arts communities long term?

If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the centuries, human beings can and will adapt to survive and thrive. Artists and the arts are often the markers that lead the way. Watch how the best among us manoeuvre ~ and follow them.

It is unlikely that we will head en masse to the Cineplex or our local bookstores anytime soon, but that does not mean you can’t have a ‘watch party’ with family or friends through the technology of Facebook or ‘visit’ through Zoom. You can support local book retailers by phoning in your order. (Amazon is not the only game in town.) Many booksellers have made timely and sensible provisions to get your ordered books to you.

Of course, there will be casualties in the ‘commerce of art’, just as there will be in the larger economy. (Airlines are taking a beating. Even famed investor Warren Buffet is dumping airline stocks.)

Rest assured though, creative new initiatives and innovations will emerge. As is happening.

The invention and development of the internet, in our lifetime, offers access to ANYTHING. Embrace that.

Be sure too to brush up and build ‘off-screen’ resilience skills so that this necessary ‘transition’ is less fearful and overwhelming.

Why not take this #isolation time to learn to better prepare and cook nutritious meals for yourself and others? Savour anew those time-honored human rituals of ‘making’ as much as tasting. ~ Adapt. Survive.

Share this heart-warming Youtube ‘bedtime story with your wide-eyed, wondering children or grand-children ~

Humanity Will Make It.

Holton H&SMargaret Lindsay Holton is an artist, she identifies herself and her work as “naive-surreal-folk-abstracts”, a descriptive moniker that demonstrates how her work falls outside of traditional and current ‘art schools’.

 She is a typographer, a pinhole and photo-collage photographer, a furniture designer and furniture maker – learned that at the hands of her father.  She was raised on a sheep farm in north Burlington, graduated from MMR high school, graduated from the University of Toronto.  Holton has written 11 books.  

She has created over forty short documentary films, under 15 minutes each.

Holton received the Alumni of Influence award by University College, University of Toronto and was nominated for the Premier of Ontario Arts Award.




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