When Delhi’s Gallery Latitude decided to reinvent itself to adjust to the changes triggered by covid-19, its founder-director Bhavna Kakar had a big challenge ahead of her: How to go digital overnight?
The need to pivot is not just restricted to galleries. At a time businesses are struggling to sell products and services, organizations offering art and cultural events are rising to the challenge of quickly adapting to the online stage to stay relevant to patrons confined to home. “It was challenging, although we had made online catalogues before but never so elaborate nor very detailed walkthrough videos," says Kakar, 41, who worked with her team on long video calls for weeks to decide how their new offerings would look on the gallery’s website.
Mumbai’s National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) started putting its past performances online around the time the Janata Curfew was announced in March. When NCPA realized the lockdown would be extended, it began broadcasting one performance each from its Indian music, jazz and dance genres, and the Symphony Orchestra India every week. The transition to the virtual stage wasn’t easy, though.
NCPA’s chair Khushroo Suntook explained: “Since the auditorium experience is different from watching a performance online, the challenge was to make the material broadcast-friendly without compromising on quality."
Like NCPA, Bangalore International Centre (BIC) always had plans to go big digitally, but could never manage. “We had made impromptu plans to start a podcast series in March. But with so much to do, arranging over 250 shows last year, we never had time," confessed director V. Ravichandar. But you have to innovate when the time calls for it. “We planned on the fly and, in seven days, we were live with our podcast." Participants recorded their part of the podcast script on their phones while at home, and sent them to the production team, which put it together.
Rohini S., a publishing associate with Tara Books in Chennai, was always aware of the challenges of using online space and had refrained from taking her puppet-making workshops for kids online—until the lockdown. “You have to change with the times. There is more interaction in offline formats; I can see what children are making. In an online format, it feels more like a performance," she said.