The week-ending has come with some sweet tidings for the entertainment and arts sector following some news and developments that the industry had longed for long.
There was no news which probably sounded sweeter than the announcement by the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 easing down the restrictions on public gatherings on Tuesday. There has been some significant improvement on the numbers permitted per sitting.
The new guidelines entail that indoor events can now accommodate up to 100 people, outdoor events can take as high as 250 people while bars and clubs will be open from 2PM to midnight.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic started, the entertainment and arts sector has been squeezed. The regular operations and activities that drive them were rendered untenable because of restrictions on public gatherings that were put in place to minimise the spread of coronavirus.
It has been a tough year for players in the sector to survive. Live public performances were heavily limited which in turn meant a decrease in the income for the artists. During this period we have seen a lot of businesses fold and a lot of people losing jobs.
Performing art is a unique activity. It is a two-way medium which requires two subjects on both ends. One will generate the content and the other will provide feedback. This feedback is crucial to the source in many different ways. It tells you how good or bad you are faring in your performance. In this way it gives you hints on which areas to improve in your next set. This is away from the monetary factor which is more enhanced when people come to attend the performances.
So when you consider these facts, the virtual performances which became an alternative during this period were inadequate to fully meet the demands, objectives and expectations of an ideal live performance. It was an avenue still lacking in many aspects.
When creatives were complaining day in and day out, it was all understandable. It is just that they were caught between a rock and a hard place. They faced a choice of either breaking the laws to try and earn a living or turn themselves into an engine spreading the disease.
Perhaps what hurt them more at times was the lack of strictness in enforcing similar rules in other undertakings so that the field should appear level. In the period preceding, we saw politicians enjoying the privilege of conducting rallies anyhow.
Their rallies attracted hundreds upon hundreds. All this happened while live performances, which normally attract between 500 and 700 people, were prohibited on the watch of the same people who were quick to crack the whip on creatives whenever they strayed.
This in every sense smelled of hypocrisy and the murmurs and groans from the sector were justified. It was sad that our governors chose to look on the other side when others played outside the fence.
Our creative industry is stunted in its growth. The little that people make only allows one to live from hand-to-mouth. To imagine that these players have sustained themselves this long is a miracle in itself.
While we are applauding this decision, we should also remember that every provision comes with responsibilities. The pandemic is still very much around us. Though the figures have improved, it will be folly to throw ourselves in that comfort and free zone.
The rope has been given to the creatives. Let us ensure that we do not use the same to hang ourselves. This we can do by ensuring that we enforce a strict adherence to Covid-19 safety measures whenever we are staging performances.
Let us all play our part. We will defeat this monster.