“The State of the Arts” -By Christian Vinante Giovannini, Honorary president for the PSAFS
Nearly two years ago, while hosting a fundraising event at the Whitehall Horse Guards Hotel, for the people of China then affected by an alarming “new virus”, none of us at the Parliamentary Society could ever have imagined the unbelievable situation that we are all in now. Back then champagne was spilling into glasses and the venues were open, free and sparkling as the drinks being served.
The Art world, especially music and cinema, was already facing a massive industry revolution that was shifting record sales from shops to mainly online downloads and movie watching from DVDs to Netflix. Who remembers the hours spent at Blockbuster stores choosing a couple of movies that you weren’t even sure you were going to enjoy? I remember hours spent in vinyl record shops - but that is ancient history!
At the end of 2019, digital downloading was already the most popular way to watch Netflix, Sky, or Amazon. Which were already the easiest ways to watch a movie or listen to a song.
As in any revolution there are fighters, winners, and losers, but the truth is, at the end, who- ever has lost has recuperated later in some other way. Except for the legendary shops like Blockbuster, Virgin Megastore and HMV.
The biggest issue was, and still is, the copyright on sales for digital downloads, many of which are still free, but the market and the regulations are keeping up with the situation even if it’s with some difficulty and at a slow pace. Also, artists, in the recent years have new opportunities to make money through YouTube, Instagram and TikTok.
This worldwide crisis affected everyone and everything, and as a singer, event organiser, a former DJ and former Events Director of the Green Room Artists Club, I feel the need to write and share with you a few words of hope regarding clubs, theatres, cinemas and artists in general that have suffered more than others.
Decision makers had to be rightly tough with the entertainment sector to mitigate the spread of the virus. The risk of being infected is much higher in places like nightclubs than in cinemas, theatres, or even gyms, as you can’t separate and avoid the close contact among people. They are meant to incentivise socialisation despite the loud music, which causes them to raise their voices and get closer and closer, with a higher possibility of exchanging saliva drops – not to mention the dancing, especially after a few drinks. A similar situation exists for football matches, stand-up shows and festivals.
After one year of polemics on the “Track and Trace” app that struggled to work, it restored functionality with the reopening of venues, which is now creating more disruptions than ever to the hospitality sector, the arts world, and the sports.
As you might know, the Track and Trace invites people who have had close contact with an infected person to isolate for 10 days, even if not affected by the virus. Although to me, it sounds like a good way to reduce the spread, this can turn to be confusing and very annoying to many, and it has created more problems than solutions for the Art industries. From September clubs will need to ask for proof of double vaccination from their guests and, to be honest, it will be a great achievement if we get to September, and we are able to do so.
I strongly advocate a better synergy between the Government and the entertainment industry representatives to overcome these obstacles. Actually, I hope that by the time you read this article, it is all sorted. Among the many affected by the restrictions in the artistic world, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, one of the strongest “World of Arts” representatives, has admirably and with lots of courage produced the “Cinderella Musical” during a pandemic. It was a bit of a good opportunistic gamble in my opinion, a gamble that has had its success delayed by just a few weeks.
Any new artistic product after nearly two years of absence will almost certainly be a success as the crave for art has never been so strong. A prolonged period of self-isolation or just the impossibility to attend entertaining events has surely created more willingness to get out and have fun.
That’s why I hope that all the artists reading this, managed to keep creative during this challenging period, and have been and will keep working hard making sacrifices, because from now on I believe that your work of art will be appreciated by your followers as never before.
I wish you will get the best from everything.
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