Richmond performing artists struggle through COVID-19

Richmond performing artists struggle to make ends meet as contracts and events are cancelled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Andrew Wade, president of the Richmond Arts Coalition (RAC), said that many performing artists, including himself, are finding themselves out of work as shows are cancelled and contracts are cut early because of the spreading virus.

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He told the Richmond News that performing artists in particular earn their living by performing for crowds, and with gatherings and events limited to 50 people, it “strongly affects” the artists.

Wade, who is currently in Winnipeg, had his five-week theatre contract terminated unexpectedly and is now trying to find an emergency flight back to Vancouver.

“It’s just such an uncertain time because my fellow performers and I didn’t know it was going to be our last performance until the day of,” said Wade.

“If there isn’t a crowd, (performing artists) aren’t earning a living and a lot of artists are not just losing out one contract, but for the entirety of the summer.”

He added that many others are in the same situation.

“Lots of people can get paid leave from work, but many artists work on contracts without a safety net like employment insurance (EI).”

Meanwhile, the federal government announced Wednesday that $27 billion will be allocated to directly support Canadian workers and businesses.

The emergency care benefit package will help workers who are self-employed, quarantined or sick and are not qualified for EI benefits.

However, despite the personal loss, Wade said he understands that cancelling events is the right thing to do.

“We need to protect ourselves and those who are most vulnerable in the community. I believe it’s the right choice to be cancelling these events, whether it is a theatre

performance, exhibit or a concert.

The RAC is providing as many resources as it can to artists who reach out to them, said Wade.

And he suggests to others who earn their living in the arts industry to keep track of the loss of wages during this time.

 

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