Stress, Self-Employment, and Facing the Pandemic as a Performer

Stress, Self-Employment, and Facing the Pandemic as a Performer 1

Covid-19 has left long-lasting ripples of unemployment in the world of the artist.

The pandemic has swept through every single sector of industry, but it has hit some of us harder than others. While those of us with government jobs or who already worked online have been largely unscathed, the world of the live performer has gone belly-up.

Hundreds of thousands of us work in gig venues, dance venues, as stage performers or as karaoke singers. We are street artists, storytellers, and the bards of modern society. Without this portion of society – who would tell the stories of Covid? Who would put a human face on it? The news?

Self-Employment is Considered Normal in the Entertainment Sector

We operate in an industry where as much as 72% of the musical performers and live talent are self-employed. If you haven’t been self-employed for longer than two years, there was no help from the government during that first – or second – lockdown in the UK. 

This single wave saw thousands of people immediately forced out of work. Not only that, but as an industry, performers have always relied on second jobs to keep a steady income going. When faced with Coronavirus, those second jobs either closed temporarily, shut their doors for good, or involved public facing jobs in the service industry which ultimately put them at risk of infection.

No matter what way you cut it, a whole league of artists, musicians, street performers, singers, dancers, and actors, were all forced out of work. The government made no special allowances. In a world where everything has shut down, what do you do as a performer put out of work by the pandemic? How do you get financial help?

Getting Help as a Struggling Artist

Now that the current economic climate has turned us all into starving artists, how do we take control of the situation?

First things are first, you need to check your mental health. It’s understandable that you would be stressed right now. There are plenty of programs that can help. You can put yourself through to wellbeing training to help you self-manage stress levels, for a start. If you still feel it’s all too much, get in touch with your GP and schedule an appointment with a therapist.

Secondly, we need to take care of the money crisis. Apply for grants and loans, get in touch with your local MP if you must, and explain your situation. As to your business: get online. Reach out to web designers and developers to see if you can do a collab, get on social media and grow your business there. We can’t take to the streets, but we can take to Twitter. 

Get on LinkedIn and look for work, upload a CV and, while you are waiting on someone noticing you, get familiar with the internet. If we want to stop this happening again, this sector of industry needs to be as readily able to switch to the digital as the next one is. Showreels, headshots, CVs and examples of our work can all be centralised on a website. Now’s the time. 

Final Thoughts

We have always, as an industry, had to go out there and create the work when there isn’t any. It is a fundamental rule of performance arts. This time, we just must find ways to make it go online.

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