If you work in the entertainment industry in South Africa, there will have been two points made in Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech last night that will have hit harder than the others.
The first – gatherings of more than 100 people have been prohibited.
The second – SA citizens advised to refrain from travel to or through certain risk countries.
The impact of the first is a no-brainer, and even before the president’s speech we saw national events like The Cape Town International Jazz Festival, Bushfire Festival and AfrikaBurn announcing their postponement or cancellation – AfrikaBurn without a refund but that’s a whole other kettle of fish that needs to be tackled in another article.
The morning of Monday the 16th of March saw a wave of event postponements and cancellations flood my Inbox, on top of my own shit storm of event details that I had to deal with personally.
This is a nightmare. But this has to happen in order to curb the spread of the Coronavirus. A particularly scary Facebook status made by author, Deon Maas, who now lives in Berlin, stated that 42 out of the 263 cases of Covid-19 in Berlin comes from people in the same club on the same night.
Additionally, an interview with Dr. Daniel Griffin, an infectious disease physician specialist at Columbia University, made super clear that people should not attend any events that, for some godforsaken reason, have not yet been cancelled.
The damage that this is going to do to our already struggling music venues, and small production and event companies is unthinkable, and while the likelihood of closure is not something that any of us want to think about, it’s a stark reality that many of us are going to be faced with. They’re all going to need to come up with alternative ways to generate income.
The impact of the second is a bit more complex but when boiled down in its simplest form, SA musicians will not be able to travel to Europe, the US, the UK or China to perform. That’s months of meticulous planning of events and tours and festivals up in smoke. That’s visa fees and accommodation deposits and other overheads, the costs of which will take ages to recoup.
If an internationally renown event like SXSW is projected to take years to recover, what is the impact of the Coronavirus going to do to our already struggling scene and greater impacted economy?
The financial implications of the two aforementioned points are dire. People who work in the greater entertainment industry live project-to-project, gig-to-gig, hand-to-mouth – there is no back-up plan and when events are cancelled and production halted there is no income. Zero. Nothing.
I saw an especially poignant tweet from Rob Van Vuuren this morning who was questioning if he’d be able to pay his bond next month. If an established creative like him is worried, what’s that going to do to the average creative on the street, so to speak. The thought of it scares the shit out of me.
So what can you do to help? Well, the way I see it, it’s the little things. You can buy merchandise, albums and vinyls from SA musos online. You can support any crowdfunding campaigns that artists are running in the wake of cancelled tours. And you can make playlists and share releases of SA musos all over social media. Now is the time to spin that Apple Music playlist on loop (and on mute if you’ve had enough of it after 15 plays) for as long as possible.
Now is also the time to start knocking on the doors of SAMRO, SAMPRA, CAPASSO & RiSA to start asking for the royalties owed to you. The Kiffness recently posted a thoroughly-researched and succinct article as to how exactly you go about doing this at each of these royalty collection agencies, which I’d 100% recommend you read. To-date, The Kiffness has earned over R250 000 from these agencies combined.
But most importantly, you should listen to what healthcare professionals and your common sense is telling you to do. Wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, disinfect surfaces that multiple people come into contact with. Stay at home if you can but if you can’t, stay a meter away from people and for the love of god cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough and then throw that tissue away – I was going to say cough into your bent elbow but Cyril told us that’s how we gotta greet now so yes, I do understand this conundrum.
But we need to curb this fucking monster virus so that we can get back to business.
So stay woke and stay safe, it’s rough out here in these corona streets.