The Pandemics and the Theatre
The Covid-19 pandemic has significant impacts on every part of the world. While its severity might vary, the consequences are similar all across the world. It has led to the loss of billions due to closure of business, and many sectors of the economy are still suffering from its effects in one way or the other. While Australia is one of the fortunate countries that has been able to control the spread of the virus, the effects remain very much visible with many businesses struggling to survive the economic downturn resulting from the virus. However, the mere fact that the spread is under control is worth celebrating. Nothing shows this more than statistics and the available ones for Queensland as at January 8, 2021, shows that there have been 1274 cases with only 9 cases and 12 deaths recorded so far. Testing remains very much in action, with over 1.5 million tests conducted so far. The discovery of a case of the UK variant of Covid-19 has led to the declaration of three days’ lockdown in the Greater Brisbane Area from 6 PM of Friday, January 8 to 6 PM Monday, January 11. It is expected that the lockdown will further prevent the spread of the virus if anyone has even contracted it.
One of the sectors most affected by the pandemic is the arts sector with theatres occupying a major place in this sector and in fact, quantifying the damage that the pandemic has caused for the Theatre sector—starting from the performing arts workers all over the country who lost their jobs due to the inactivity of the Theatres and who were not eligible for JobKeepeer payments. These included writers, directors, ushers, lightening artists, stagehands, and many more. The Theatre sector lost billions of dollars in revenue and many projects that were earmarked for the year had to be cancelled.
With the slow resumption in business across Australia, live theatre is slowly getting back on track, but there is still a far cry from what it used to, and the rescue package from the government cannot be said to be enough to cater to the needs of the theatre sector. Even with the gradual reopening, there are still many doubts about whether people will return to the theatre. While some people have pledged to return if only to support the Theatre sector on this trying times, there are still many whose fear of the pandemic could prevent them from taking advantage of the opening. During the height of the pandemic, some theatre companies and arts and dance productions decided to use the internet to showcase some of the plays they had on the offing. With the opening of the theatre, it appears that many theatres may adopt these methods unless people are confident that they are truly safe.