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'Tales from Quarantine' featuring a letter by Tim on the VirtualWOMEX site

Tim here, the director/music producer of Small Island Big Song. Sitting on the verandah in rural Taiwan, the sun has just risen here ( while you Europeans are snoozing away) a view of forest wilderness before me and a dawn chorus is my soundtrack, but as I write this, the imposing hum of a passenger jet flies overhead the first I've heard in many months - a reminder that we are in the era of the virus. Crazy times as you often hear, but I reckon these are the sensible times. Finally, our governments are following the informed advice of science- see we can do it!

Our year began at APAP (the American performing arts market in NYC) pitching our new show for a US tour in 2021. While there we also presented a forum 'Arts & Climate Change' to an over-packed conference room, we called for big picture ideas and among them was 'chill out day' -- one day a week when we stop producing greenhouse gasses, give nature a rest, and stayed at home with family and community. And then the virus lockdown showed us that you can stop the relentless consumption of our planet, so let's keep it up for one day a week, let's make that the new normal.

Our film 'Small Island Big Song' was all set for a theatrical release and should be in cinemas across Japan right now, but all that is on hold for now, so we have had to reframe the year. How do you create during isolation, particularly as all of our musicians are spread across so many island nations. Our solution is to organise a series of virtual roundtables meetings with scientific authorities; respected cultural elders, climate youth ambassadors and an ensemble of islander musicians to speak up some of the world's most confronting environmental issues – rising sea levels, plastic pollution, deforestation, coral bleaching and global inequality. The musicians drawing on their lived experience will then unite the science and indigenous knowledge in song and hopefully connecting some hearts to these issues. For when the threat of the coronavirus eases, these other big picture issues threatening all life continue.

It's strange watching it all from here, Taiwan was the first country to take action and began their virus response before the WHO announced it, so everything has remained open here without any lockdowns, the island has closed it's airports though. So as an Australian in touch with family and friends confined to their homes with public spaces closed and told to keep a kangaroo apart, it's almost like another Netflix series. By the way, if you want a #NotNetflix experience, you can view the Small Island Big Song and Vanuatu Women's Water Music film on the VirtualWOMEX's Film On Demand site (members only) before the 4th of July 2020.

See you all at WOMEX 20 Budapest!

Tim Cole



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