Performer and producer Maeve Marsden said it has been a tentative return for many in the arts industry post the pandemic shut down.
Speaking with On the Job with Francis Leach & Sally Rugg, Ms Marsden explained, “For a lot of us who are independent artists, the choice to take risks, even on a local show, having experienced what we did last year, where we lost in many cases 1000s of dollars and hours of work, is really hard.”
“I know a lot of people who have just booked seasons at Adelaide Fringe Festival or Perth Fringe Festival and have been cancelled and lost lots of money.”
For many independent artists, taking on the risk of cancellations amid ongoing changes to COVID restrictions is unavoidable. According to Ms Marden it’s difficult to make a living in one place given the relatively small cities in Australia, “You’ve really got to get around to make it a year-round job…so that’s really tough.”
As well as the financial costs of touring, artists are also impacted by ongoing COVID restrictions just as capacity limits.
“It’s really nice to be with audiences again. But the actual circumstance of what it’s like putting on theatre at the moment is still really hard,” said Ms Marsden.
“All the theatres are at 75% capacity in New South Wales. So that 75% of the income and the cost that left, I can’t pay all my performers 75% of what I used to pay them. I’m ultimately paying myself less so, it’s tough.”
Despite these challenges Ms Marsden does see opportunity for the industry to come back better than it was before.
“The industry wasn’t fine until COVID. There were huge problems in terms of how it was all being managed,” she said.
“What I found most supportive, was seeing a reckoning around that and seeing people work that out.
“Now as I start to do work, again, I’m noticing that the venues and theatre companies I’m talking to are really trying to be supportive, and really trying to go, well how can we make your work easier? And how can we make your risk less? And how do we support you to write all these COVID plans.”