The Covid-19 pandemic has had a detrimental effect on the future of the live arts industry. The arts makes a huge annual contribution to the Welsh economy. We spoke to some individuals, from the grassroots of Cardiff that who are known for working within the sector.
Emily Kocan. Bassist – Clwb Fuzz
‘‘From the beginning it was clear that the live arts were going to be vulnerable to the impact of this pandemic. This industry holds a quarter million jobs and contributes around £4.5 billion to the UK economy per year, yet we are given no certainty that there will be stability for us when the pandemic has passed.
“We are at risk of losing important culture, societies and well-being. It’s extremely unnerving to hear, so many of us could be out of work for who knows how long.
“As a band, we’ve had disruptions with all sorts of plans we had this year but we’ve taken this time to really get ourselves ready for the next stream of plans.
“Recently The Welsh Government announced a £53m fund for art bodies up until March which is said to help those whose jobs are under threat. It is also to go towards researching how they can continue these activities safely in the climate of COVID-19.
“However, the UK’s economy is already at a big financial loss due to a Brexit. The arts were already under threat before the virus, we’re struggling during the virus, we can only hope that we aren’t left in the dark post-pandemic, especially with Westminster in the picture.
“There are so many ways in which we can showcase live arts and keep money coming to our independent venues without them being close contact live shows. They can also be networking events, workshops, exhibitions.’’
Ellis Walker. Promoter and Musician – Mellt
‘‘Prior to COVID, about three quarters of my income before was performing in the band. Also I worked with other groups producing material whilst working in a bar to supplement my income. All this ceased when the lockdown began.
“Coping during lockdown has been difficult for me because although I’m still able to work on material and do things at home, it doesn’t really compare to the thrill of playing in front of a live audience.
The feeling of ‘I should be doing more with this time’ is a very unhelpful feeling that has stunted my impulsive creativity. I have applied for a few of the government grants and got nothing, I am dumbfounded with they way they have worked. A first come first serve policy for grant applications is preposterous, I have spoken to so many people who were also struggling.’’
Tara Turner. Performing Arts student and trainee at Coyote Ugly
‘‘I’m a very practical learn-er and rely a lot on face-to-face interaction to help with my studies and everyday life. When Covid took over the world, I found myself to feel somewhat alienated from the world outside my front door.
“I kind of went into “survival mode” with everything, working until I was completely drained of creative fuel. I’ve been trying to keep busy so my mental health stays balanced but I had my fair weeks of laying around and doing sweet F A.
“I don’t think people really understand how much our futures and jobs are at stake here, especially for the self employed, students, the poor and those who have business in the arts over the next two years. We all have been utterly screwed over during this pandemic.
“At this time, more than anything and particularly in Wales, the live arts industry needs recognition.’’
Alias Booker. Musician and artist
‘‘Remember where music starts, your favourite band started playing gigs in places like this. I just hope that everyone realises and puts more of their own time and effort into supporting these places instead of taking them for granted. I have yet to see any sort of help thrown in the way of the live arts and don’t think we will see anything.
“The industry is already being seen as a lost cause and those who have been told to retrain and to forget about their interest is astonishing. Distribute money more fairly instead of pumping it into Wetherspoon’s.’’
Joe Woodward. Vocals / Guitar – Clwb Fuzz
‘‘I miss gigging and having more to do musically. The government hasn’t done enough to support the live industry at the moment and are the ones slowly killing it off.
Rishi Sunak’s comment on telling artists to re-train was just offensive. At the moment, it’s really helpful to donate to venues and art businesses because that’s the only way small independents can try to survive.’’
Images and words by Dali Poulsom, BA Photojournalism. Dali also runs her own Music blog which can be found at: https://www.underthemoon.uk/