When Cyril Ramaphosa announced the new Coronavirus lockdown restrictions on Sunday evening I was performing to an audience of 25 people in a 60-seater venue.
As he walked to the podium to speak, I got a sense that once again things are about to change.
We are all at a point where we feel like the president is repeating himself but to people like me who are in the arts, live entertainment and the hospitality sector, it’s the rule around social gatherings being made smaller that impacts us more than anything else.
A hundred people in an indoor venue most certainly does not work.
It also does not help that we are allowed to put 250 people outdoors at this stage, it’s winter and almost nobody will come to an outdoor event in cold weather.
And if it should rain then the entire event will be washed out anyway.
Is there nobody with any ideas in those meetings?
Are you all just going to say, “Cyril, die virus skuif op, maak AL die gatherings kleinere” without considering the negative financial impact this would have on people’s livelihoods?
I do think that a rule around venue hiring can also be imposed to assist producers and artists.
If the number of attendees shrink, then the venues must also bring their prices down, and not because they want to accommodate us, but because the government dictates this by law.
By now we are well aware that there is a virus and we will manage our events properly by putting the necessary protocols in place and our supporters are smart enough to stay safe.
We understand what it takes to prevent the virus from spreading and we are far more educated with regards to Covid-19 than we were a year ago.
We have taken this virus met al sy stampe en stote, there was a time when artists were promised relief funds which nobody received, and yet we didn’t complain and cry and give up, instead we strove on to survive by whichever way and means possible.
It’s been more than a year of this pandemic and many of us have rent and bonds that are behind for months now, so it’s not that we think we are special, it’s just that we also need to work in an environment that is sustainable within our field, which is mainly live shows.
We have all tried to be innovative to survive and just as things started looking up now you limit us again.
All these changes are also scaring people so the attendance is also not the same.
There appears to be nobody sitting in those presidential meetings backing the arts, who is thinking about us.
I mean, the limitation is across the board – all indoor venues down to 100 people – no matter how big the venue is.
Well, here is just one way you could have treated this situation: leave the limitations to 250 if all persons attending have been vaccinated.
Producers could then source 250 persons – health workers or those over the age of 60 who have been vaccinated – to put up a show and so manage to pay the bills.
Surely this is at least worth a consideration?
Many people will say that it’s a vaccine and not a cure so the virus is still there but there are more people walking around in the mall and eating at restaurants than at a show.
In an environment like that, you also have no guarantee against contracting the virus.
So what is the difference?
A hundred people in a 500-seater venue only covers the rental of the venue!
So now we are right back where we started, and some of us have already lost money since President Ramaphosa spoke on Sunday.
Because having to downsize events means losing money on ticket sales or doing another show which doubles the expenses.
I know we can’t blame the president for the virus but we can blame him for not surrounding himself with the right people who have all of our best interests at heart.
It’s a difficult time and yes we must prevent this third wave from becoming worse but we must be smarter and realise that we are not at the start of the virus any longer so we can’t treat it as such.
With that said, I sense online shows will make a return if these restrictions stay in place for a while, so please do support everyone of them as we need your support now more than ever. Stay safe.