Arts & Entertainment

Delightful Darlinghurst

Reuben Kaye performs at Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s Red Carpet Cabaret. Photo: Robert Catto

By Rida Babar

In light of the COVID-19 restrictions, entertainment venues in Darlinghurst have been forced to shift their business models and operations. Here’s how.

Darlinghurst Theatre Company (DTC) has implemented a series of Red Carpet Cabaret shows that have been a major success.

Amylia Harris, the co-artistic director at the DTC provided insight into how the DTC has adapted and remained afloat during these uncertain times in an interview with City Hub.

When asked what the inspiration behind the cabaret shows were Harris said, We were shut down on opening night of [the new production] A Chorus Line, so we had to find ways to adapt and survive.

Red Carpet Cabaret was a part of finding innovative ways to adapt business models and create audience experiences specifically for this moment. It was a really fantastic and hugely successful experience, we sold out the entire season.”

When asked whether this cabaret will continue post-COVID Harris said, “Yes, it’ll exist in a different form. It was put together quickly, within restrictions, and I’m a firm believer that creativity exists within the parameters that you’ve been set. When we start it after this, I hope that we will be able to have more nights, different art forms and make it a hub.

“Being one of the first live venues to actually put on a show weighed a little heavy on my shoulders because if we didn’t do it right and audiences lost faith, they would lose faith in theatre in general.

We had a lot of patrons write emails thanking us for our diligence and safety precautions.”

When asked what the most difficult part of adapting to life during a pandemic was Harris said, “There’s a lot of emotional fatigue in the industry at the moment. A lot of people are finding it difficult to still find ways to create, which has been hard to navigate.

Personally, the hardest part for me was grieving the loss of the industry as we know it.

Another venue, The Magician’s Cabaret is both a cabaret and bar with a Parisian theme that encompasses storytelling, song, and dance tied together with candlelit dinners.

The venue, staying true to its level of flair, chose the dance of the audience,’ which is essentially a creative means of enforcing COVID-safe protocol.

The process is essentially a ‘sequence of steps and movements’ which includes reading safety signs, visitors’ temperatures being checked on arrival, hand sanitisation, kicking open bathroom doors using feet, visitors arriving and moving row by row to maintain social distancing.

They reemerged with this protocol on June 1, when restrictions lifted, and used these measures to remain COVID-safe, and successfully did so.

The Oxford Art Factory (OAF) ran shows at limited seating capacity and spaced all chairs and tables 1.5 metres apart. They also implemented a strict cleaning schedule and maintained social media updates, remaining active on social media accounts so that people could remain updated with what was happening and feel more comfortable attending the venue’s shows.

They also opened up the venue for rent as a rehearsal space, with equipment and a professional audio engineer to assist as an incentive for people to hire out the space.

They also promoted a petition to call on the government to extend the JobKeeper payments to arts and entertainment sector workers, and deliver a relief package catered towards the industry.

They also reduced prices on Oxford Art Factory merchandise and encouraged the purchase of prints from OAF photographers.

Mark Gerber, CEO of OAF said,Perhaps more than any other, the music industry has seen a complete and utter takedown that has brought it to a screeching halt.

The virus does not discriminate when it chooses who to infect, and that rings true for humans and for businesses. The creative lifeblood of our world is haemorrhaging before our eyes. Governments across the world must act now and act fast.

Eu De Vie, a speakeasy in Darlinghurst turned to the support of customers, encouraging the purchase of gift vouchers which offered a 20% top up on all vouchers purchased valued at $100 or more.

Wings And Tins, a local restaurant, introduced a ‘Tinnie Masterclass and Hotwing Pairing Degustationas a change to their business model, as well as maintaining a social media presence to update customers on their deals.

They also briefly shifted to a booking-only system and introducing a delivery option.

Slide Lounge, home to the circus degustation El’ Circo and glamorous entertainment and dining venue shut down last month after 14 years of making unforgettable memories for visitors.

Despite implementing a COVID-safe plan, the venue was unable to survive the financial weight of the pandemic.

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