Kingston Creative ArtWalk goes virtual

Many persons lined the streets of downtown Kingston to participate in ArtWalk last year.

As the coronavirus pandemic pummels industries across the world, homebound Jamaicans scramble for entertainment activities to fill their quarantined hours.

“This Virtual ArtWalk allows creative entrepreneurs to continue to earn.”

— Marketing brand lead Tavia Benjamin

With the closure of theatres, galleries, festivals and museums due to the spread of COVID-19, the Kingston Creative ArtWalk, in an unprecedented move on Sunday, March 29, took the bold move of going virtual.

Many possibilities

Marketing brand lead Tavia Benjamin said that the creative house needed to seek innovative ways on how they could maximise the full potential of the digital community, allowing creatives to glean visibility internationally and locally.

“We pivoted very quickly at the onset of COVID-19 and developed the Virtual ArtWalk because it provides a way for Jamaican creatives to be visible to a global audience at this time. It is especially appreciated by those in the Diaspora who have heard about the Artwalk and who might want to buy from and support local creatives,” she told BUZZ.

“In very practical dollar terms, this Virtual Artwalk allows creative entrepreneurs to continue to earn. We employ the same number of artists and artisans that would have been involved at the regular in-person event. The sponsors also get visibility to an audience of millions. It’s really a win-win.”

Though many see the pandemic as a disadvantage, Arts Programme Manager, Abigail Ramsay, says it has fostered a whole new world of unimaginable thinking that has brought the world closer to the creative industry.

“The ArtWalk, in a way, has become a monthly ritual for artists, artisans, and lovers of Jamaican arts. In times of crisis, it is important not give up our rituals! We have the technology and the platforms to continue to provide opportunities to Jamaican artists and creatives. Plus, we could open the work to the Diaspora. Coping with the COVID-19 pandemics has closed the door on our gatherings yet opened many possibilities, including documentation and bringing artists’ work to the world,” she told BUZZ.

After COVID-19

With one down and three more to go, the virtual Artwalk will continue its journey in the coming months.

“We do see the benefit in continuing a digital version of the Artwalk even after COVID-19 restrictions have eased. It’s a great way to reach a wider audience and to document the experience. We plan to facilitate artists in hosting more virtual events in the future,” Ramsay shared.

The creative house will be opening applications as of next month to assist creatives to amplify their talent and voices through an array of projects.

“The Virtual Artwalk is just the first one of a series of four digital commissions that we are rolling out over the next few months. After a review with our first 50 sponsors, we are allocating $2,700,000 to new commissions that creatives in Jamaica can apply to between March 20 to May 31, 2020,” Ramsay told BUZZ.