An online petition asking the Belgian government to allow galleries and museums to reopen has been launched.
The petition claims that art is not essential for visitors to the gallery, but it also allows institutions, artists and workers to continue to make a living and support the industry.
The petition cites a 2019 study by the World Health Organization that found evidence for the potential value of art in contributing to core determinants of health and health promotion. The study found that engaging with the arts could help to prevent the onset of mental illness and age-related physical decline.
The petition has been launched by MARUANI MERCIER Gallery, who have made recommendations for opening galleries whilst still respecting social distancing. The recommendations include allowing 16m2 between each person in the gallery with security in every room to ensure the guidelines are followed. The petition’s originators also suggest that galleries and museums do not require any touching, meaning that they have a reduced risk of spreading the virus.
“Today I believe we should concentrate on returning to business as usual as soon as possible,” says Laurent Mercier from MARUANI MERCIER. “If we don’t concentrate our energy on that, we might only be allowed to reopen together with music festivals and movie theatres.”
The petition asks politicians and policy makers to have the courage to see the culture industry as essential and to understand that safety measures can be used to ensure that visitors and workers are kept safe. They claim that allowing galleries to reopen is essential for the ongoing wellbeing of the industry. The petition is also launching a hashtag that will be used across social media along with an international campaign to highlight the importance of art and culture during this crisis. Messages of support can be found using the hashtag #ArtHealsCovid-19.