Another blow to SA arts industry: Joburg Ballet set to lose R1-million following big cancellation

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 Dancers seen on backstage ahead of a rehearsal of 'Swan Lake' at Joburg Theatre. (Photo: Getty Images)
Dancers seen on backstage ahead of a rehearsal of 'Swan Lake' at Joburg Theatre. (Photo: Getty Images)

In the wake of COVID-19's spread through the country, actor Rob van Vuuren was one of the first to sound the alarm about the devastating financial consequences of cancellations and postponements facing South African entertainers as well as the industry at large.

The reason so many large gatherings such as concerts, performances and even art galleries are being closed, postponed or cancelled is that the coronavirus spreads fastest in crowds. According to WHO (The World Health Organisation), COVID-19 is spread through droplets, which are expelled during coughing and sneezing, so all it takes is one person being infected for many people to catch it.

To stop the pandemic, the government has implemented a nationwide lockdown, during which all residents are required to stay home unless in need of groceries or medical supplies, in which case they are asked to remain as far apart from the next person as possible. As such, there are minimal means for those in the arts industry to make money. There are no ticket sales for shows or festivals, no appearance fees and even talk shows are out of the question.

In a post on his Twitter account in March, Rob wrote: "While I applaud the Govt's decision to act decisively in the face of this disaster my income is effectively frozen now. I don't know how I'm going to pay my bond. Next month I'll be wondering how I'm going to feed my family."

He went on to say: "And of course I am not the only one. So many of us in SA live hand to mouth, and there are way more people living in a far more precarious situation than myself. Heavy days."

Rob isn't the only one, according to an article published earlier this week on Mail and Guardian, The Joburg Theatre is set to lose R1-million following the cancellation of their Don Quixote show. The show started on 13 March but then the season had to end abruptly on 15 March, just two days and four performances later, due to physical distancing requirements.

In a post on their Instagram, CEO of Joburg Ballet, Esther Nasser, wrote: "The cancellation of six of the season's ten performances has obviously had an impact on Joburg Ballet, and your generosity will help the ballet company through the tough times ahead.

"The Joburg Theatre booking office has endeavoured to contact all holding tickets for cancelled performances of Don Quixote to offer the option of claiming a refund or making a donation to the ballet company"


The government will be allocating R150 million to the arts industry, following the state of disaster address. However there is no word yet, if any of those funds will be earmarked for Joburg ballet.  

Channel24 has reached out to Joburg Ballet for comment and will update this article should they reply.

(Sources: Channel24, Mail and Guardian, WHO (The World Health Organisation), News24.)

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