Arts & Entertainment

Art-pocalypse

Revellers wear plague masks and WWI gas filters to attend events without contracting COVID-19 coronavirus. Photo: Alec Smart

As the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic continues to worsen around the country, and particularly here in Sydney, drastic measures have been implemented to keep the community safe. As of 9am Wednesday, March 18 Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his government enacted a policy which has seen all “non-essential indoor public gatherings of greater than 100 and outdoor gatherings of greater than 500” prohibited. A decision which has had severe impacts across the arts and entertainment industries.

According to a press release from the website, I Lost My Gig Australia which is a website set up by various entertainment industry bodies, the total lost income from cancelled events as of March 17 sat at $100 million with 65,000 job opportunities lost and over 380,000 individuals impacted by the cancellation of upwards of 20,000 events across the country. These numbers are only set to rise as the weeks progress.

On Tuesday the Federal Minister For the Arts, Paul Fletcher met with entertainment representatives via teleconference and released the following statement.

“It is clear that COVID-19 presents significant issues for our arts organisations – and like all Australians, they are showing great community spirit in calmly and efficiently dealing with the circumstances they are facing in the near-term so we can come through this challenging period”

Minister Fletcher also reiterated that businesses in the entertainment and creative fields are entitled to the cash flow assistance which were announced in last week’s $17.6 billion stimulus package. Under this program, small to medium businesses can receive support to help them to continue to pay employees, up to a maximum of $25,000.

In regards to the events and venues which have announced cancellations so far the following are most notable;

  • Sydney Royal Easter Show – the first time this event has been cancelled since the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1919
  • Sydney Film Festival – cancelled for the first time ever
  • Vivid Sydney
  • ANZAC Day Commemorations
  • Sydney Comedy Festival – Although the festival will not be staged in April and May, a number of performers will look to reschedule their shows for later in 2020.
  • Groovin The Moo music festival
  • Bluesfest – was set to feature performances by Alanis Morissette, Dami Im, Lenny Kravitz, Crowded House and more.
  • Download Festival – was set to feature performances by My Chemical Romance and many more
  • Under The Southern Stars
  • Sydney Writers Festival – “This is an unprecedented, deeply upsetting and challenging time for everyone, but the health and safety of authors, audiences, staff, publishers, volunteers and our community must come first. We recognise that the cancellation of this year’s Festival will have a significant impact on the literary community, and especially on writers whose work was to be featured for the first time in this program. We urge you – our audience and community – to support these authors and your local booksellers in what is sure to be a challenging year.”
  • Sydney Children’s Festival
  • Festival Of Dangerous Ideas
  • Ocean Lovers Festival
  • Sydney Dance CompanyBonachela/Forsythe
  • Sport – various sporting codes to be played behind closed doors (AFL, NRL, Cricket, NBL)
  • Sydney Opera House – has cancelled all live performances as of Mar 17 until further notice
  • Opera Australia – cancelled shows include Carmen, Attila, Great Opera Hits, La Traviatta on Sydney Harbour
  • Enmore Theatre – postponing or cancelling all events between Mar 16-31
  • City Recital Hall – closed until further notice

Other events have currently only postponed their dates;

  • Splendour In The Grass music festival has postponed their event until Oct 23-25
  • City & Colour – tour postponed – no replacement dates
  • The National – tour postponed until Dec 10
  • The Killers – ticket sales postponed. Tour still slated for Nov
  • Movie Releases Delayed – a raft of films have delayed their cinema release. Most notably, James Bond – No Time To Die, New Mutants, A Quiet Place Part II, Fast & Furious -F9, Peter Rabbit 2: The Runway, and Mulan)
  • TAP Art Gallery Enchanted Garden, no future date set
  • Record Store Day – postponed to Jun 20
  • The Other Art Fair – no replacement date announced
  • Sydney Climate Action Summit
  • Tinkerbell & The Dream Fairies Adventure To Bubble Land

It’s important to note though that it’s not all doom and gloom for Sydney’s entertainment scene. A number of wonderful venues are remaining open and implementing extra precautions to keep attendees, performers and staff safe and healthy.

  • Sydney Biennale – forging ahead given that it features a range of events and exhibitions spread out throughout the city
  • Stanley Street Gallery – extending their exhibition opening events to reduce the concentration of visitors
  • Galerie Pompom
  • Giant Dwarf Theatre – reopening in their new venue
  • ICC Sydney – some events cancelled, some postponed, some continue as is and others transitioning to live streaming/digital conferencing. At the discretion of each individual event under 500 person capacity
  • Pro Wrestling Australia (PWA) – Tomorrow night rather than run their scheduled event in-front of a live audience PWA will instead be running a live-streamed event behind closed doors.

“These new restrictions will have a HUGE impact as an independent pro wrestler,” explained PWA wrestler Steph De Lander. However, De Lander also sees this time as an opportunity to hone her craft, “I’m kind of viewing this the same way I did when I was out with an injury… if this is a time where wrestling is taken away for a little bit, I should try and use it to get creative and find ways to still be working on my brand in a non-physical sense.”

For comedian Sam Wade the community spirit of the arts scene will help pull him. 

“I have a bunch of really good people around me, and most of them are trying to get through this together. We have to look out for each other, now more than ever!”

The public can show their support for the creative and live music industries in a number of ways. They can donate to Support Act – a charity delivering crisis relief to music industry workers. They can stream, share and buy music by Australian artists, buy their merchandise, or just reach out to people in the industry to make sure they are okay.

If you or someone you know needs support, there is help available:

Support Act Helpline: 1800 959 500

Lifeline Hotline: 13 11 14 or text their helpline on 0477 13 11 14

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