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Together while apart: Interrogating togetherness in the context of COVID-19 and online community arts practice

Reason, Matthew ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0536-4236 (2024) Together while apart: Interrogating togetherness in the context of COVID-19 and online community arts practice. In: Gray, Karen and Tischler, Victoria, (eds.) Creative approaches to wellbeing: The pandemic and beyond. Manchester University Press, pp. 42-62

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This chapter interrogates the meanings and experiences of ‘togetherness’, specifically in the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) prompted expansion in the online delivery of community arts practice. It frames the simultaneous loss and pursuit of togetherness as a key territory of the pandemic, something that occurred at both community and individual levels, became problematically politicised and yet was also genuinely desired. The utilisation of online community practice to instil a sense of togetherness, wellbeing and resilience has the potential to be a lasting legacy of COVID-19. The objective of this chapter is to think through virtual togetherness, developing a critical framework to help us better evaluate experiences of being together while apart. Specifically, this chapter examines what produces authentic and meaningful experiences of togetherness within online community arts practice. It uses as a key case study the Creative Doodle Book (CDB) project, which between November 2020 and June 2021 delivered online arts workshops with partners across the UK, in contexts including learning disabilities, mental health, care homes and young people. Discussion considers insights from the CDB project in the context of ideas of communitas and selfhood, proposing that authentic experiences of togetherness require both a letting go and strong holding onto personal and collective identity. Its conclusions reflect on how claims for togetherness during COVID-19 are time exclusionary, and it suggests that active consideration of inclusion is essential to future thinking about being together while in online spaces

Item Type: Book Section
Status: Published
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general > NX456.5.P38 Performance Art
School/Department: School of the Arts
Institutes: Institute for Social Justice
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/10112

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