Govt must gradually open arts sector

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THE government has to gradually open up the music sector with strict guidelines to avoid a situation where artists’ operations become underground enterprises as is currently happening. And because of the closure of most venues, guerilla-style gigs and wild indoors parties have become popular.

The government has to work out guidelines on what musicians should do to start making music again; from socially distanced rehearsals to reduced audiences. Socially-distanced indoor and outdoor performances can take place as long as the government’s guidance on distancing and limited audiences is adhered too.

Non-professional performing arts activity, including choirs, orchestras or drama groups, can rehearse or perform together in line with professional performing arts guidelines. The current Covid-19 lockdown, which has resulted in a ban on musical shows, has seriously affected the music industry, with huge festivals being cancelled while tours have collapsed. Businesses within the industry, like venues, are also feeling the pinch. Indeed Covid-19 has had major repercussions for the local music industry.

The disruption of musicians’ touring schedules has undoubtedly impacted the bottom line of artistes. Then, of course, there’s the legion of audio and light engineers, backstage teams, tour managers and other behind-the-scenes hands who have lost work due to cancelled tours, conferences and festivals.

Most often people only see the glamorous side of the music business they forget that musicians, studio owners and engineers, usually at the bottom of the supply chain, often live hand-to-mouth with not much in the way of savings. While music is one of the few certainties we can rely on to provide happiness and relief in tumultuous times, musicians, whether they work in theatre, teaching, orchestras or gig-playing, have felt the full financial force of this global disaster.

This all makes the live music industry all that more important for artists and musicians, especially for those considered to be non-superstar acts who rely on touring and live gigs to make a living. Audio-visual technicians also reported a massive wave of job cancellations as more and more music events were cancelled in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

While industry experts and analysts are projecting that the live concert business stands to lose thousands of dollars, the financial fallout is virtually immeasurable at this point. It’s chaotic and stressful for agents and managers, artists, their families and their support teams.

Other musicians have, however, found ways to survive. Even in this lockdown period there’s a revenue stream in the form of digital releases; some acts are raising online funds for charity during the pandemic; some are selling band merchandise online while others perform virtually for their fans who donate money through online payment platforms.

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