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Putting music back in the centre

Barley Arts’ Claudio Trotta looks at how the industry can help the response to coronavirus, as well as the concert business's post-Covid-19 renaissance

07 Apr 2020

Claudio Trotta, Barley Arts

Before speaking on the future of the sector in which I work, with Barley Arts and Slow Music, I would like to reflect on a wider context.

The great health tragedies, wars, hunger and poverty that have affected millions of people, even in recent decades, were always perceived as concerning “others”.

We were those “others” all the time, but we are noticing this fact only now that we are directly and indiscriminately affected by the situation.

Covid-19 is a global pandemic, but we can’t forget that today millions of people still starve and face calamities and famines of all kinds.

Today we are facing an emergency that we would otherwise have ignored.

When we get out of the global health emergency, as an optimistic man devoted to Enlightenment principles (as I consider myself) I hope that humanity can reconsider its priorities and focus again on affection, harmony and the physiological need to help others, and take our time in order to give continuity and diversity to our life without suffering too much from the inexorability of its progress.

We have no time to cry about ourselves, but only for the beloved ones lost by many of us.

We don’t even have time, nor reasons, to be afraid but only to be aware.

I hope that it can finally be understood that each individual action always corresponds to collective consequences, and that the unbridled race towards fame, power and financial and economic wealth do not make most of humanity feel good.

the unbridled race towards fame, power and financial and economic wealth do not make most of humanity feel good

In addition to thanking doctors and nurses, we must remember the hundreds of thousands of people who every day take care of everything necessary for us to continue living – cashiers, shopkeepers, cleaners, truck drivers, public transportation workers and taxi drivers, and volunteers of all categories – but also the prisoners and the many beggars who are refused accommodation in Milan in this period of emergency, and still need help.

We cannot forget people with mental and drug addiction problems, self-employed workers of all kinds, undeclared workers and the elderly alone in their homes and residences.

I believe it is necessary to suggest a collective qualitative leap in the ways of compulsory staying at home during these months.

I believe that civil society can, and should, make itself available in a rational and coordinated way by using its consolidated expertise and network of professional relationships to support and sustain all those activities that support the people who need it most.

For example, specifically concerning my field, the knowhow of more than 40 years of show set-up and production, often in makeshift locations and even in extreme conditions, can and must be a useful resource in setting up temporary structures of any kind.

Music, art, theatre and literature can help and comfort, and can contribute to the economic reconstruction of the country.

With Slow Music, we are creating (from home) ‘Slow Club’, a sort of many-voiced magazine that will be online this week.

We must reconsider our priorities: they must go back to being the well-being of people

Finally, it will be necessary to reflect on the production methods of mass gatherings for next few years.

We must reconsider our priorities: they must go back to being the well-being of people, from the moment they purchase the ticket until they return home at the end of the show, rather than those of numbers, turnover, records, ubiquity instead of participation, and the satisfaction of the egos of those on stage.

It will be necessary to think of new forms of assistance; to distance the audience in the right way; to recalculate the capacities and review the methods of entry and exit flows; and in general, allow everyone to enjoy the soothing power that culture, and of course music, have for the psycho-physical balance of people.

Perhaps we are at the end of a second Middle Ages, and nature is sending us a kind of ‘last call’ – either mankind corrects the route or we will have no more alternatives if not to succumb to all kinds of calamities, like the one we are going through.

Perhaps we can contribute to a new Renaissance, if not for us, at least for our sons, grandsons and great-grandsons.

There is a time for everything, and all we can now do is reschedule what has to be interrupted and what cannot be achieved for a few months. But it is certain that in due course, and at a necessarily international forum, many things will have to be reviewed, putting the essence that is ‘music’ back to the centre and giving up everything that is useless and often mystifying in this industry superstructure.

And anyway, with 2.6 billion people at home, Mother Earth is feeling much better. Once the health emergency is over, it will be a starting to point to reflect on changing our way of being.


Claudio Trotta is founder and CEO of Barley Arts.

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