Stage photography is a significant part of my work, so the Cv-19 pandemic has had a considerable impact on my bookings.
At the beginning of March 2020 I was looking forward to a healthy number of engagements. Yet just four weeks later my diary was bare.
Music festivals and theatrical productions have been abandoned, with 2020 becoming a fallow year for the performing arts. However, most live music events and theatre companies expect to return in the new year.
This, I fear, may be overly optimistic. And I am not alone.
Lollapalooza co-founder Marc Geiger, along with Glastonbury’s Michael Eavis, have both warned that their festivals may not return until 2022.
Live stage events take months to organise and no-one is going to start a project that might not be allowed to go ahead.
Imagine you’ve been rehearsing a play for two months and at the dress rehearsal someone calls in to say they’re showing symptoms. That could mean the whole cast having to self isolate and the production being cancelled at the last minute. All the money invested in the production would be lost. Ticket money would have to be refunded. No-one is going to take that chance.
One of the main characteristics of live entertainment is that it is a very social experience – both for the performers and audience. By its very nature it involves large numbers of people coming together to enjoy an experience with one another – the antipathy of social distancing. Therefore my calculation is that as long as we have to keep our distance, there is little prospect of live entertainment being viable.
I’m therefore currently working with the expectation that it will be Autumn 2021 before live theatre and music will return in any meaningful way. This can only happen when social distancing is relaxed, when the threat of Covid-19 has abated, most probably following widespread vaccination.
Whilst no two pandemics should be directly compared, Spanish Flu took two years to play out, and I suspect the same may be true of Cv-19.
The music festivals I work with privately admit that that their plans for 2021 may have to be abandoned. Local theatre companies meanwhile have suspended operations for the foreseeable future. Some are hoping to stage productions in 2021 but have yet to announce plans to hold auditions. Whilst there is optimism for next year, there is an acceptance that it may be some time before live entertainment returns to the stage.
Updated 16/10/20 to add useful links below:
Face masks and social distancing could be in place until next summer, Oxford vaccine professor warns (Evening Standard 14/10/20)
Glastonbury may not return until 2022 as Michael Eavis admits holding festival next year is ‘wishful thinking’ (Metro 4/8/20)
No live gigs or festivals until 2022, Lollapalooza boss predicts: ‘The next six months may be most painful’ (Metro 17/7/20)