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Covid-19: Performing arts ‘forgotten and neglected’

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THE arts and performance industry is being ‘neglected’ and ‘forgotten’ in favour of hospitality despite Covid-19 restrictions beginning to ease, a local music-theatre performer has said.

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The Theatre Workshop Jersey director Scott Livingstone has said that the government needs to open up a dialogue with industry experts to resolve the restrictions placed on theatrical events and singing.

Under the Covid-19 guidelines Mr Livingstone cannot give face-to-face singing lessons, with the assumption being that singing would likely spread the disease – a concern which he believes is ill-founded.

‘The guidelines currently state that singing increases the risk of airborne droplets, which I completely disagree with,’ said Mr Livingstone. ‘As a singer, you are able to control the breath with diaphragmatic breathing, whereas people shouting at the football in a pub are much more likely to spread airborne droplets.’

Mr Livingstone highlighted the number of ‘very capable professional singing tutors’ in the Island who would be able to operate safely but were being prevented from doing so.

‘I am, of course, talking about professional vocalists because there is a big difference from your amateur singer who does not know how to use correct technique.’

With the reopening of pubs, Mr Livingstone thinks the arts and performance industry has been ‘neglected’, with a primary focus on hospitality instead.

‘At the moment it feels like we’re the forgotten industry, so it’s a case of acknowledging that but also developing the guidelines to reflect an industry that is constantly changing.

‘It should be addressed by professionals in the industry and not through guesswork. I understand that the guidelines have been made in haste as we are in unprecedented times, but we are now in a position where we can readdress them and I think it should be done before people start losing their businesses and their livelihood.’

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Mr Livingstone would like to see States Members call upon professionals with an in-depth knowledge of the industry to help address issues that might otherwise go unnoticed.

‘I don’t want to be overly critical of the government because what they’re doing does not have a clear road, and I would hate to be in their position deciding things. But with the borders and pubs reopening, it is time to address the entertainment, events and theatre industry because we are the ones still unable to go back to day-to-day business.’

Mr Livingstone has written to States Members as well as government officials and has already received replies including one from the Medical Officer of Health, Dr Susan Turnbull, who said the issue would be addressed at upcoming meetings.

James Jeune

By James Jeune
Reporter

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