Windhoek The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has stalled many businesses in Southern Africa with businesses that need gathering of crowds being the most affected.
he social distancing measures which are recommended to curb the spread of the virus are negatively affecting the arts and music industries in the region.
Last week The Southern Times interviewed different artists across the region who have shared their experiences how the pandemic has negatively affected their careers.
South African percussionist and performer Sifiso Bogale Makhana said the pandemic has shut all doors of possible income for performing artists.
“Covid-19 has proven not only to make us orphans but also paralysed our financial lives. It is hard to balance finances when you know that you only survive by making music and doing gigs. To make matters worse, the measures to curb this pandemic have closed all doors to new opportunities as well as travel,” said Makhane.
“This pandemic has hit us hard as artists, we really don’t know what to do because as musicians we rely on gigs and rehearsal fees to survive and since we can’t move anymore it frustrates us and it has emptied out our pockets and savings.”
He said the situation is being made worse because he believes his country’s government does not take the arts industry seriously and there is no directly dedicated aide for musicians in such hard times.
Makhane added, “Many shows were cancelled, postponed and with no cancelling fee. Some of us used to get rehearsal fees but now we can’t because of the lockdown.”
Similarly, semi abstract artist Honest Mhlanga said the COVID-19 has made it difficult for artists to earn a living from their work.
“Currently we are unable to do exhibitions of our work, we cannot attend any exhibitions out of the country. I had several exhibitions that I was supposed to do in South Africa but now, they have been cancelled. To make matters worse we cannot have tourists to see our work or buy our work because of the travel restrictions. The situation has brought a real struggle for us,” said Mhlanga.
Mhlanga said while he is waiting and hoping for the situation to change for the good, he is using the time to perfect his skills and polish his work.
He added, “We also hope that the government can assist in any way they can, considering that there is a lot that needs to be done and no one was prepared for this.”
Zimbabwean Afro Jazz musician Clare Nyakudyara told this paper that the effect is the same to all artists.
She said, “The music and recreational industry have been hit the most from the smallest to the biggest and it is probably the last on the list to get back to normal if all there will be a vaccine. So as artists we have to come up with ideas and adapt in order to make a living at all. We need to take advantage of social media and digital platforms to survive this. While other businesses are proceeding virtually with workers working from home, for the artists it is a different story, they make a living with tours, live performances, exhibitions and art galas.