Performing artists very worried

2020-03-17 14:30
Silver corded microphone in shallow focus.(Kane Reinholdtsen/Unsplash)

Silver corded microphone in shallow focus.(Kane Reinholdtsen/Unsplash)

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Actors, musicians and technical staff in the performing arts are worried they will not survive the economic impact of Covid-19 on South Africa.

Maritzburg-based pianist Christopher Duigan said the public’s fear and concern was resulting in audiences falling away for his Music Revival concerts.

“I’ve had three concerts and two festivals cancelled in the next 12 weeks. I’m hoping to continue with concerts, but I am looking at changing programmes so that I don’t have to pay fees for visiting artists,” he added.

World renowned guitarist Guy Buttery said the ban had resulted in him losing all his gigs between now and the South African winter, including several in Europe.

“The shutdowns are absolutely necessary but like most sectors the arts will suffer greatly,” he added.

Nishalin Pillay, a celebrated percussionist from the city, said he and other musicians were feeling the effects of cancellations as performing gigs was their main or only source of income.

“I had a Cape Town tour that I was meant to fly to today [Monday] but that has been cancelled; and a couple of other festivals have been cancelled.

“So, I’m literally going to be looking for another job soon until this whole thing ends, because music-wise I can’t do anything besides practice.”

Among the many productions which have been cancelled in Pietermaritzburg and the KZN Midlands are school productions that were due to run at Michaelhouse, Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School, Epworth, The Wykeham Collegiate and St Anne’s Diocesan College this week.

Fans of comedian and actor Riaad Moosa will also be disappointed to learn that his show Not A Nice Guy at the Golden Horse Casino in Pietermaritzburg on March 29 has been called off, as have the performances in Newcastle on March 28 and Durban on March 27.

Roland Stansell, who runs the Rhumbelow Theatres in Pietermaritzburg, Durban and Kloof, has confirmed that all shows at his venues have been cancelled until Easter.

Just Theatre’s production of Blackbird, featuring Tanya Nicolson and Charles Webster, will no longer be taking place at The Knoll Historic Guest Farm in Hilton on March 21. Also postponed is Ryan Calder and Erin Fourie’s show, Feelin Good, on April 3, and all Music in the Hills (MiTH) shows at the venue.

Peter Mitchell, from Just Theatre, said: “We apologise for any inconvenience caused. If you have paid for your tickets, please let me have your banking details, so that you can be refunded.”

The Hexagon Theatre complex at UKZN Pietermaritzburg will be closed until after the Easter weekend, at which point staff will reassess the situation.

Also closed for the forseeable future is the Centre of Jazz and Popular Music at UKZN in Durban.

And both the Beacon Easter Eggsplorer Egg Hunt at Durban Botanic Gardens on April 11 and the Msunduzi Hospice Easter Fair in Prestbury on April 4 have been called off.

The ban has also affected tours by Boyz II Men and the Scorpion Kings, which were due to take place next month. Event organisers Glen21 are working with the bands’ management teams to find new dates.

Durban’s award-winning KickStart Theatre Company, which was due to perform An Unromantic Comedy at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre in Durban from April 2 to 19, has also cancelled. Another show at the venue to be cancelled is Here’s to YouThe Simon & Garfunkel Songbook (March 19 to 29).

The production company behind the show, VR Theatrical, appealed to theatre-goers in a Facebook post to donate the money they paid for tickets rather than ask for a refund.

“This will enable us to keep artists afloat in this upside-down time. The livelihood of countless performing arts professionals in your neighbourhood is at stake,” the post read.

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