Sahava Baranow, one of UCL's Social and Wellbeing Volunteers, shares her digital culture recommendations.
My name is Sahava Baranow and I completed a BA in History and an MA in Museum Studies at UCL. Right now I am working in the library sector as I prepare for my PhD in Japanese History next year. When I have a spare moment I like to read for pleasure, indulge in a yoga practice or bake – right now I am rediscovering the opulent pastries of my native Austria.
If you are anything like me, going to the museum, theatre or a concert used to be a well-established part of your life. For me, participating in the local cultural scene creates a feeling of connectedness while also allowing me to have new experiences and grow as an individual. In other words: seeing exhibitions, plays or operas has a noteworthy positive impact on my mental health.
Now that a majority of us are only able to leave our homes rarely and for our most pressing needs, this outlet has been removed from our routines. Nonetheless, many institutions have found ways to stay connected with their visitors even while their physical locations remain closed.
For theatre afficionados I can recommend The National Theatre, which is offering access to streams of past productions on their YouTube channel. Every Friday evening the National Theatre is livestreaming one of their archived shows, leaving the full-length play online for a week until the next show premiers digitally. Shakespeare’s Globe is streaming past performances on a two week rotation alongside a programme of various other online resources, such as a digital tour and a podcast series.
The opera world, too, has caught on to the trend of digital stages with the The Royal Opera House weekly stream of past productions on YouTube at the forefront. And the Spanish Abao Bilbao Opera has made several full-length operas available online, as has the Vienna Staatsoper
As one of the largest performing arts centres in Europe, the Barbican has put together a collection of things to read, watch or listen to if you find yourself in need of inspiration or distraction. And Kings Place allows access to snippets and full-length performances from their archives through their KPlayer.
For a broader learning experience, head to The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, which offers a wealth of free independent documentary films available for free online.
You may not know that your favourite museums have already had an online presence for years. YouTube especially hosts a number of museum channels, where you can watch anything from the British Museum’s Curator’s Corner to the Natural History Museum’s Live Talks with NHM scientists.
A special mention also goes to the bilingual Instagram page of the French Musée d'Orsay. During the museum’s closure a new artists takes over their Instagram feed for one week to present their favourite objects in the museums collection. I particularly enjoyed Tracy Emin’s choices recently (11-17 May).
Finally, for those of you who enjoy listening to podcasts, I highly recommend Katy Hessel’s The Great Women Artists Podcast to rediscover so many of the female artists missing from our traditional art histories.
I hope that the above suggestions will inspire some of you to look out for more digital culture and that this might be an aid in staying connected with your loved ones and even strangers over music, drama, film and more.
As for the performance of attending cultural events itself, why not emulate that at home too? You might want to try dressing up at home and setting aside dedicated time for yourself to enjoy the things you have always enjoyed.
If you are interested in becoming a digital volunteer, please explore our opportunities or complete our Expression of Interest form, outlining your key skills, interests and availability. We'll then get back to you to help find a suitable role.