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The Swiss curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist, artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries, has proposed to the London government a public art project to combat Coronavirus, drawing inspiration from that implemented by the American President Roosevelt in the years of the Great Depression.

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In order to cope with the Coronavirus emergency, the curator has created a proposal inspired by the PWPA (Public Works of Art Project) model within the WPA (Work Progress Administration, also known as the Work Project Administration) established by the President of United States United, Franklin D. Roosevelt, in the 1930s, during the New Deal tragic period. So, the answer is a great public art project. In the period of the Great American Depression through the PWPA, more than 3700 artists had been brought together with the aim of creating murals, sculptures, graphic works and paintings that have invested the country giving life to a large active community, and a boost to the injured economy of those years. Among those artists,  we recognize the names of the young Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.

Obrist's idea is to take up the skeleton of this project by relating it in scale to the needs of the country. "It is such a fascinating project when you consider where we are now, both in terms of supporting the economy and in terms of helping and taking care of the artists," explained Obrist. "The UK government should do something like this."

Tate director, Maria Balshaw, in line with the curator, has declared that the role of museums and galleries is to keep the flame of creativity alive in people: “We have already seen it with the Italians singing on the balconies (…). We need to amplify our human capacity to respond to adversity in a creative way ", focusing on the web right now. Hartwig Fischer, director of the British Museum, told the Guardian that the institution would certainly need government help to overcome the crisis. “Nobody is prepared for this moment,” explains Fischer, “with the closure, many entries are no longer available. We are certainly facing a very difficult time that we share with all institutions across the country. " Fischer also added that visitors to the British Museum attend the museum to learn about the history of humanity and how it has faced several challenges: "This is something that has now become even stronger."

What has the Arts Council England done so far? The government agency dedicated to the promotion of the arts has built a real strategy (available on its website) by creating a £ 160 million emergency response package for all those organizations that will need it, without forgetting the artists who will be able to access a cash grant (as reported by the Guardian). Given the situation, it was also decided to change the funding requirements for all those who have already benefited from it.

Cover image: Hans Ulrich Obrist

Stay Tuned on Kooness magazine for more exciting news from the art world.
 

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