Creation in Isolation: Supporting Independent Artists During COVID-19

Nyallah is a Los Angeles-bred, Brooklyn-based artist

The other day I snuck into my kitchen for a late-night snack and frightened my roommate who apparently had the same idea. She said she gets easily startled these days, and who can blame her? We live in startling times. Daunting headlines echo our new normal of self-isolation and social distancing, a reversal of fortune that has brought capitalism to its knees. But this reckoning has also brought a rapid economic decline on track for a new Great Depression. Our pandemic economy weighs heaviest on the shoulders of communities who have been historically and culturally disenfranchised and denied access to financial safeguards. One of these communities is America’s creative workforce.

The creative industry, which includes a range of fields in education, entertainment, non-profit and more, “represents 4.01 percent of all U.S. businesses and 2.04 percent of all U.S. employees—demonstrating statistically that the arts are a formidable business presence and broadly distributed across our communities.” Art-centered businesses and the creative people they employ stimulate innovation and ultimately play an important role in building and sustaining economic vibrancy. Especially in a city like New York City where 12% of employment is in the creative sector compared to a national average of 3%. Covid-19 has brought the city that never sleeps to a screeching halt at a great cost to both artists and the audiences that love them.

I virtually connected with one of my favorite creatives who’s navigating pandemic life in New York to learn more about how we can support our creativity communities during this time. Nyallah is a Los Angeles-bred, Brooklyn-based vocalist-songwriter-producer-instrumentalist specializing in contemporary soul and R&B.

ME

How has Covid-19 affected your work?

Ny

This period of self-isolation has given me a lot of time to work on my music (almost too much at times). I’ve been reevaluating my perception of progress, trying new routines/ways to make the most of my time — whether that be personal, creative, or otherwise.

ME

How can people support your work during this time?

Ny

Purchasing my merch (purchase here), listening to Reflections on all streaming platforms, and sharing my Reflections with 5 friends today. I am also releasing new music in a few weeks, so listening/sharing to the new tunes also helps!

ME

What has been a surprising benefit of Covid-19?

Ny

Having endless time to process and flow. I have endless time to rest, create, laugh, sing, dance, talk, whatever. I do miss physically hugging, seeing community, and hearing other people’s laughs; may we can return those connections soon.

ME

What does the future of the creative industry look like for you?

Ny

Honestly, I don’t know. I see more barter/trade systems, a REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH AND RESOURCES, a redefining of the terms “live music” and “performance.” Hopefully more appreciation and respect for art; if it wasn’t for art, I wouldn’t be able to get up every morning.

My conversation with Nyallah was thoughtful, and it left me feeling better equipped to support other community members facing similar trials. Afterwards, I couldn’t help but think how in times of hardship we turn to these very creatives and their works to heal and process our trauma.

Artists and creatives are a vital part of our collective community, and their work provides us with familiarity in a new age. So, take a moment and support an independent artist in your life this week. Buy their merchandise, check in with them and their work, and share some of the resources below: