The coronavirus is everywhere: In the news, in our conversations with family and loved ones, and in our places of work.
Coronavirus has overtaken weather as the subject people talk about most.
Let us not panic. The stakes are high, but there is much we can do to curb the spread of the virus: Namely, practicing good hygiene and social distancing.
That should not be too difficult, as many countries have decided to cancel or postpone all public events imminent on our calendar.
Cancelation of culture
Local authorities have canceled musical festivals such as Mawazine and Timitar, and national and international forums including Crans Montana and Meknes’ International Agricultural Exhibition.
Museums have followed suit.
A statement on the website of the National Foundation of Museums announced that their services would shut down until further notice.
“The exhibitions ‘Enchanted illusions, great figures of African modernity,’ ‘Delacroix, memories of a trip to Morocco,’ and the ‘Entry into matter’ retrospective of Fouad Bellamine, planned at the Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, are effectively postponed,” the statement read.
Cinemas, art galleries, and theaters throughout the country have also announced that they would close immediately and remain shuttered for a good while.
We are talking about a near complete halting of the cultural and entertainment industry, the largest-scale shutdown of national art and cultural centers.
With Morocco’s broader cultural scene coming to a coronavirus-prompted close, industry professionals are tallying the potential financial impact.
Consequences of the coronavirus on the arts and entertainment industries will likely be felt by artists, filmmakers, theater and cinema owners, staff members at these institutions, and more for months to come, at a minimum.
The halt to cultural performances will leave the people who depend on cultural activities for their livelihood financially vulnerable. It also raises questions about how artists and other staff members of arts organizations will maintain their livelihoods, with their events canceled.
The whole sector will be hit especially hard when we factor in the cost to cinemas, shows, and institutions involved, along with COVID-19’s impact on the wider Moroccan economy.
The Moroccan Ministry of Economy and Finance sits on the country’s newly created Economic Monitoring Committee (ECV), formed to address the impacts of the novel coronavirus across Morocco’s economic and social sectors.
The committee “will be in charge of closely monitoring the development of the economic situation through evaluation mechanisms and identifying appropriate measures to provide support for the affected sectors,” the ministry said in a press release.
We can hope that this will mitigate the effects of the coronavirus on the fledgling arts and entertainment industry.
How to benefit from arts and culture during lockdown
For those of you sticking to social distancing, as recommended by officials, the best thing to do now is to cobble together alternative entertainment.
This is the time to catch up on reading. Start with those books that have been sitting on your shelves for a while.
Since libraries and bookstores will be closed, you can also freely download e-books and audiobooks. The National Library of Morocco in Rabat (BNRM) has lists of available materials for adults and children on its website, free of charge.
If you are art-savvy, this is the time to take a virtual museum tour. Google Arts & Culture has a collection of virtual walk-throughs for various international museums, from Paris to New York. Morocco’s Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is also offering “virtual immersion” tours on its websites, and anyone interested can check out the museum’s current collections for free.
Now is also the time to catch up on the latest film releases or rewatch some old classics. Many platforms are available online and you can watch anything from American to Chinese to South Korean movies. Oscar-winning Parasite, anyone?
You can also binge watch many international series. One benefit of a television binge: You will not feel the time passing as series usually span many seasons, some more than 15.
Keep this in mind: You do not need to be a shut-in when social distancing.
You can get out of the house on the sole condition of maintaining at least one meter of distance from other people. Avoid crowds and go in nature.
But let us be clear: While there are enjoyable, accessible ways to pass the lockdown, coronavirus is no joke.
The virus spreads person-to-person through respiratory droplets, meaning the chance of infection is high.
Many countries are simply overwhelmed and trials for potential vaccines may take some time. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Morocco has confirmed 1,141 novel coronavirus cases, including 88 recoveries and 83 fatalities, as of April 7. The country’s state of health emergency lockdown is scheduled to continue until April 20.