Arts Policy

Surviving COVID-19 with Art: How A Small Business Owner in Ottawa Chose To Re-Strategize

The COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted businesses, large and small. Self-employed artists are among those who fall through the cracks when it comes to receiving support from the government. Alina Susan Joji discusses art and the economic impact of the pandemic on local artists with Ottawa-based artist Pooja Grover.

Impact of COVID-19 on Canadian Businesses

As Canada takes cover for a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses, schools, colleges and other retail stores and restaurants are now stretched thin for resources. Going on a full lockdown was an easier option the first time around, but as a crisis stretches from months to years, the options for financial survival are looking bleak.

Image: Pooja Grover, Photo Credit: Mindful Intuitions

While the federal and provincial governments have been working to support businesses through various exemptions and subsidies, freelancers (also called self-employed individuals) in the areas of photography, event management, catering services, art among others are having a much harder time coping with the slowdown of business.

The pandemic has hit the small businesses and freelancers hard. The second phase of Covid has hit Canada and more business closures have been observed in light of lockdowns and restrictions. According to Statistics Canada, retail businesses dollars fell by nearly 25% while sales at full-service restaurants fell by almost 57%.

Self-Employed Canadians

A study conducted by Statistics Canada called “How Are self-employed Canadians faring economically during the pandemic” was published on September 18, 2020. This study concluded that government initiatives like CERB and CRB would be able to provide short-term relief to self-employed individuals, but their capacity to return their business to operation would potentially be impacted by “evolving social attitudes towards physical distancing” among their clients.However, there are also other concerns of how much Canadians will be willing to spend on non-essentials goods and services amidst a potentially difficult economic future post-pandemic.

How One Artist Chose To Adapt To A Digital World

Pooja Grover is an artist based in Ottawa, Ontario and the founder of Mindful Intuitions. Grover is an Intuitive Visual Artist, Reiki Master, Energy Healer, Guided Meditation Facilitator, Intuitive Counsellor and Mindfulness Practitioner.

Among the services Grover offers is one where people can visit her studio, get inspired to make art and heal themselves through artwork and practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is a method of focused meditation where individuals place all their attention on experiencing the moment through all their senses. She conducts workshops every year that focus on mindfulness, meditative art, meditative yoga and Reiki energy healing. According to Pooja, “art is a therapy and the best form of meditation to connect with your inner self.” Her art work mainly focus on the inner self, being mindful and connecting with the inner self.

As with every other business in that industry, Mindful Intuitions also went through a rough patch since the pandemic started. All the workshops that were planned and the indoor classes that had been scheduled had to be cancelled because of the restrictions in place.

Even though the business was stagnant, Grover used the opportunity to use her online platforms to spread the word of art and mindfulness. When quarantine started, the demand of self-care and mental health support networks grew exponentially. People were either isolating at home or working from home with limited social exposure for weeks at a time.

This is when Grover stepped in with her online sessions of ‘meditation through art’, and started creating content on Instagram where she would share her artwork and relaxation strategies for improved mental health and wellness. Grover’s strategy shows promise that even artists and self-employed individuals in the industry can find innovative ways to virtually deliver services. As universities more to virtual learning methods, and many businesses have moved to work-from-home models for the rest of the year, Grover believes the importance and demand for guided meditation and motivational workshops is only going to keep growing.

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