Arts & Entertainment

The Cost Of COVID: Cancelling Cultural & Creative Events

By Gemma Billington

Cancellations have been rife across the arts sector amid health concerns for the growing COVID-19 delta variant outbreak throughout Greater Sydney.

Greater Sydney is currently under strict stay at home orders until July 30, though as case numbers remain high, arts exhibitions, events and performances have been forced to postpone.

Vivid, Opera Australia, Sydney Theatre Company, Jim Jefferies, Sullivan+Strumpf are among the artists and companies facing forced cancellations/postponements in light of Sydney’s extended lockdowns.

James Hancock is one of the artists effected by the 2021 Vivid cancellation. Having to deal with his second Vivid postponement, he says this year’s announcement has been equally as difficult to process.

“It’s very sad to hear that Vivid will be postponed again. I was so excited to have my work featured in Vivid and was ready to tell friends and family to check my work out as part of the festival,” he said. “Sydney loves Vivid and it’s such an amazing celebration of talent in the winter months. But this time, dealing with disappointment and moving on, it’s hard not to get depressed about it.”

Despite the postponement, Hancock remains optimistic and says it’s all about being able to roll with the punches.

“I’m always looking for the positive side of things and appreciate the slower pace and time with my family, having longer family meals and conversations,” he said. “Situations like this definitely make you more conscious of the here and now. In a way it is relevant to our Vivid submission which is all about family and local cultural connections.”

Hancock’s work, One Big Backyard celebrates Sydney’s diversity and unity. It will be showcased among hundreds of other national and international pieces later in the year.

The NSW Government announced that Vivid 2021 would be suspended until September 17 before then running until October 9.

In 2019, Vivid generated over $172 million for the state economy, attracting 2.5 million attendees to the colourful light works and live performances decorating the Sydney CBD, Circular Quay, The Rocks and Darling Harbour.

Vivid 2021 has been postponed until September as a result of Sydney’s COVID-19 outbreak. Photo: pattyjansen

COVID-19 impact widening

Last Friday, Opera Australia announced the cancellation of the Sydney winter opera season, meaning all four productions; Aida, Attila, Otello and The Tales Of Hoffmann, are unable to go ahead.

Opera Australia’s Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini said that while the announcement is disappointing, he’s hopeful the events will be rescheduled.

“So much work and preparation has been done by all our talented staff and performers,” said Terracini. “We’d like to assure everyone that all this hard work will not go to waste and we are endeavouring to reschedule all of the productions into future seasons.”

Opera Australia’s The Phantom Of The Opera has also faced closure, initially scheduled to open at the Sydney Opera House and the Arts Centre Melbourne later this year.

“After making box office history at the Opera House, it was clear that Australians were very excited about this new production of the world’s most successful musical,” Terracini said.

Alongside Vivid and Opera Australia, Sydney Theatre Company has also made the decision to cancel their esteemed show, Triple X.

Playwright and trans performer Glace Chase said the semi-autobiographical trans love story was anticipated to become the first of its kind to be featured on a mainstream stage.

“It’s a story that’s never been seen on a mainstage, a story based on a true experience from my life – a trans woman and the straight man that she falls into a thwarted relationship with,” said Chase.

“Although a mainstream audience has never seen a story like this before – an honest depiction of trans romance – it’s the desperate desire for connection, to be understood by someone, and to be seen that makes Triple X so relatable, and even more relevant in these isolated times.”

Sydney Theatre Company has been forced to cancel first of its kind trans love story amid Greater Sydney Covid outbreaks. Picture: Sydney Theatre Company

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