Takeover Night 2021, Image: S.Lang

What does one write to you, the Friends of Te Papa, sitting in lock down (or locked up) in another city where the plague is raging on the western side of the city? Shakespeare’s company, the King’s Men, had their Globe theatre closed during flareups of the plague and so they performed in the country for a period while things settled down. They had to earn a living without state support. But even itinerant players must stay at home now. Museums close, art galleries close, concerts are cancelled, yes, and even the baristas should stay at home.

Daniel Defoe wrote Journal of the Plague Year; Boccaccio probably headed out of Florence and wrote the Decameron turning the disasters of the time into art, an option not open to most of us.

Takeover Night 2021, Image: S.Lang

What being in lockdown in whatever level has shown us is how important the arts are to us. We can do without quite a lot. A walk is important but, after a while, doing without live theatre, live music and Te Papa narrows us. So we flock back to these sources of emotional engagement. Wellingtonians have such a lot to be involved in. The Friends programme may have had its stops and starts this last year but those who attended the Take Over night had experiences that are not available in many other places. Your committee is always seeking out opportunities to provide stimulating experiences and we are lucky that we have been able to reschedule many of them after a Covid break. So I hope to be back in Wellington, Qantas and the Covid regulations willing, to also enjoy what Wellington has to offer but remaining mindful of cities of millions of inhabitants where that is not the case.