Governments throughout the world slammed for not assisting artists enough during these hard times.
By David Gummers
Since March last year the arts industry has been given the type of challenges that none of us expected. Being dependent on audiences and live shows, which for large parts of the year were not allowed, was hard.
There was a brief respite at the end of last year though. Sadly it looks unlikely though there will be any indoor shows for the foreseeable future.
We believe until large parts of the population are vaccinated, or we are able to do rapid flow tests outside venues this will continue.
Samantha added : “It has been harder to make an impression online for the less established and upcoming artists.” “Obviously,” say artists Lauren-Lee and Maritza.
Bianca and Brendt are freelance and only earn when they perform or produce music.
Governments across the globe have offered no tangible help to freelancers in any field. it is not just in the culture sector though, but anyone who is not an employee.
The question we are being asked is should governments help. Probably yes, but not just artists, but the people behind the scenes who make a show work. Behind every show it is not just the people on stage that are impacted by the inability to put on live events.
There are venues, sound engineers, photographers, videographers, hair and make up people, security, poster and programme designers, and so forth and so on.
That omits the knock on effect to the economy of bars and restaurants near to the venue.;
Here are the thoughts of the artists.
Maritza: “My life as an artist has been great up until the pandemic. We as a team were just about to embark on a journey to the UK to tour there. It’s been tough to host live shows as most people are too scared to go out these days. We also had to say goodbye to so many theatres because they have no way of staying open and No help from the government. I have a vocal school as an extra income, and had to close it down as well and the payments we would have made in performing would have helped most of us to get by.
To be very honest the South African government never helped the arts even before the pandemic. Well not like they help the sports. We had an opportunity to take one of my students to New York to represent SA there and we could not get support from our government to help her. I know things are tough everywhere but it just seems like we as artists have been tossed to one side. If there is one thing they could have done is to have a relief fund just for the arts. Not just music. I’m a singer and the stage is my work space. It has almost been a year and I haven’t seen any fund for us.”
Lauren-Lee: ” I really miss the live shows, but I wish to protect both audiences and of course my family. I hope we are able to do live gigs soon, but we want to keep everyone safe.
Yes, it would be brilliant if we could get a little support as I think the arts generally a round the world is not high in their priority list. Our aim is to give people a little escapism and fun. I am aware that many industries are having a hard time due to Covid. Even though it is difficult we are grateful that we are all alive and well.”
Bianca: “Well to be honest the government never really helped or focused on the arts, but they focused and funding sport. I personally think if we could get a little help from the government with financial services in the arts it would go a little bit better in the industriy . Not just the artists but places like theatres where we perform, to make it come alive when we are able to perform again. I know it’s hard for everyone but if the government could just realise what a struggle it is at the moment for our industry, then perhaps they would give us a bit more help.”
Brendt: “The last 12 months for me were challenging as a DJ and musician. With constant lockdowns and event’s being cancelled was challenging. Hope for the future is very unpredictable even though I am a very positive person. I just take it day by day and live for the now.”
. David Gummers is an artiste manager who among other artists works with the artists quoted in this article.
.Although assistance for artists from the government of South Africa has in the main been found wanting, inconsistent and not enough (see our separate story in this edition), the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC) has indeed provided some assistance through Covid-19 Relief Fund Wave 1, Wave 2, Wave 3 and the Presidential Economic Stimulus Package (PESP). Applications for DSAC Wave3 Relief Fund closes today, February 21, 2021 –Editor.