This has to be the most confusing period that the local entertainment community has ever experienced.
Just when things started looking up and audiences were becoming more likely to start making their way into entertainment spaces for a fun night out in support of their favorite live performers, suddenly we are faced with a third wave of Covid-19.
And it looks like it will be pushing us back into some kind of lockdown, more restrictions and curfew changes again.
This uncertainty has been with us for most of the pandemic.
At the beginning it was worse because it seemed like there was no hope for those of us who are self-employed in the arts.
But somehow we held on and innovated and we survived.
The restriction of 500 people max at an outdoor event has forced most artists to downsize, but many have been unable to do events.
The “half audience” restriction simply does not make business sense and then there is the added factor of - are people even going to come out with the virus fluctuating all the time?
It’s a frustrating time because at any moment those plans can all be scuppered.
Meaning you could have a sold-out show and suddenly lockdown restrictions kick in, shows are cancelled and suddenly you find yourself with nothing and a family looking to you to provide.
It’s tough and there are thousands of artists struggling to manage this process.
The online shows and sales gave us hope that perhaps we can make it but then it suddenly took a dip because people wanted to go out and see live shows.
Also, there’s a lot of competition online, with so much free content available.
So yes, there is hope but one wrong move could leave an artist or producer in even more debt if they make a bad call.
In the end, that is the nature of business: one must take risks but it’s been so long, more than a year, for this industry to live with this uncertainty and the government isn’t doing much.
Most of those artists’ funds and R350s didn’t reach the majority of us, leaving us to depend on our audiences.
It is a matter of survival for the arts at the moment, with a brick wall between the artists and the audience.
I would say it would be best to do a live show and streaming, but doing both simultaneously can be financially draining.
For me it’s not about sustaining the big names, but creating an income for youngsters, the ones who are not yet established and have a smaller following.
The youth should also be taught how to run showbiz and not only focus on the performance.
They need to figure out how to sell tickets, and stage small shows on their own, be it live or online.
It’s the massive expense that a quality production carries that is causing many artists to struggle during this uncertain time.
I am a firm believer that you have to create your own work, you can’t sit around and wait.
In this pandemic, I have done online shows, benefit concerts on Facebook, anything just to keep my craft alive and make people laugh, while still trying to sustain my family.
I urge you to keep supporting local artists.
This weekend a show called Famous Funny is taking place at Cedar High School in Mitchells Plain. The line-up includes Chuqy, Jamie Barthus, Melody 5, Aidam-John and Lil Willy.
Book your tickets to the live show on WhatsApp 065 826 0008, or online on Quicket.