What a year 2021 has been.
When 2020 ended, we thought that in the coming year, things would be back to normal. But 2021 seemed to be twinning with the previous year, perhaps only a little better.
From navigating the changes of time, the art communities keep on readjusting and re-learning new strategies and methods of artmaking, navigating and maximizing the potentials of modern digital technology to bring artistic performances and cultural nourishment, and surviving the chaotic time.
The year has its ups and downs.
In 2021, we lost some great souls. We mourned the passing of National Artists Arturo Luz and Bienvenido Lumbera. The theater stage lost Repertory Philippines founder Baby Barredo, theater actress Celia Diaz-Laurel, theater advocate JK Anicoche, and VLF actor Richard Manabat, among others.
The canvasses remained blank with the passing of illustrator Danny Acuña, visual artist Angel Cacnio, sculptor Rey Paz Contreras, visual artist Allan Cosio, editorial cartoonist Neil Doloricon, curator Riel Hilario, and fashion designer Ben Farrales.
The film industry said goodbye to filmmakers Leo Abaya, Joseph Israel Laban, and Toto Natividad, as well as UP Film Center founding director Virginia Moreno and actresses Ester Chavez and Naty Crame-Rogers.
Their passing was a great loss to the arts sector. They will surely be missed.
Please do check out the Hanggang sa Muli website (https://hanggangsamuli.culturalcenter.gov.ph) to pay tribute to these great individuals.
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Of course, in 2021, we have small wins to celebrate. With the easing of some restrictions, we were able to return to some things we love.
Late last year, the IATF ruled the opening of cinemas, galleries, and museums. I have yet to visit some art exhibits or watch movies in the cinemas, but I hope to be able to do it soon, armed with face mask and all the safety nets.
Looking at the packed (50 percent capacity) Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo during the live dance performance of A Christmas Celebration gave me much hope for the future. I’d say, from the uncertainties of 2020, the arts industry was able to successfully navigate the trying times in 2021.
There were still bumps on the road, but I think we have fared much better than the previous year.
More than the resiliency, it is the true grit of the Filipino artists that keeps the industry afloat. As they say, “pandemic ka lang, artist kami.”
I’m so looking forward to how this pandemic has changed our artists and their perspectives, and how the audience changes the way they consume arts.
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Speaking of the future, in 2022, I wish that we would have more live arts and culture experiences, of course in the safest environment possible. Also, more funding and support for the art sector, especially to artists, art organizations, and cultural workers greatly affected by the pandemic, would be a welcome idea. Most of all, I hope we can have a better pandemic response, so we can all go back to living our lives to the fullest and not merely surviving.
Happy New Year, everyone!