Coronavirus: Local entertainment industry suffers great financial loss
Those in hospitality and entertainment are feeling the pinch extra hard, as events continue to be cancelled or postponed. Adding to that, the precautionary measures for people to not gather in public places is also going to start taking its toll.
The annual three-day run of the MTN Joyous Celebration national tour, scheduled for Carnival City from April 10 to 12, has been postponed until further notice due to measures announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Founder of the ensemble, Lindelani Mkhize, said the Easter show was a big part of their year and this would bring a tremendous loss to all the members who relied on these performances for their income.
“The Carnival City Easter weekend is an annual event, so we work ahead of time to prepare and make sure we give the best to our audiences, so this is really hitting us on the financial side. But the reality is that things like this are not planned, and now that it has happened, we should be in a position where we do the right thing by protecting ourselves and the fans who come to watch our shows.”
Mkhize added that as tough as the situation was, he believed postponing the event was the right thing to do.
“Everything happens for a reason. We’re hoping to fight and deal with this pandemic and then to proceed with the events. Our members who live on what they get from these shows are affected. The whole industry is getting affected.”
Mkhize said that for most of the members, it meant up to four or five months without income.
“We only start performing from April, which is the fourth month of the year. Right now, the only recourse is making sure that you are healthy and ready for whatever is coming because it does look like it’s going to be worse.
“No one can say they were ready or prepared for this, everyone has been hit at the least expected time, at the beginning of the year.”
Mkhize said that for now, the focus for Joyous Celebration was working on the upcoming projects.
“We’re working on releasing our new CD and DVD, which will be available in April, but every Friday we release different singles, so we urge our fans to check out and download those singles. Hopefully music shops won’t be closed.”
Some musicians have taken to Twitter to respond to the ongoing virus and how the precautions are starting to affect them. Prince Kaybee tweeted that he was afraid to invite other musicians over to start recording music: “All this quarantine and we can’t even record music, such compulsion on creativity is crippling.”
Event organisers have taken some of the biggest blows, with events being cancelled or postponed.
Thato Segaole, of Vertex Events, has had to postpone the Magic Music Sessions with Musiq Soulchild, which were set to take place later this month.
“There are two big elements that really hit us hard. The first one is that we have to worry about the losses made economically just from advertising alone. With international concerts, you have to spend three to four months planning - from radio and TV adverts, to print and social media. The problem is you can’t get back what you advertised. All that advertising goes to waste.”
Segaole said that in some instances artists would be understanding, while others would choose a postponement rather than a cancellation.
“So regardless of the plan for the rest of the year, you have to be flexible enough to plan for another show, where you have to market it again and use the same local artists - but you don’t know if they will be available when the international artists are available.”
Segaole added that with event cancellation insurance, there were a lot of things it didn’t cover.
“You aren’t covered for communicable diseases or restrictions of movement by government or health and safety risks out of the norm. So now, for the first time, we don’t know what to do because we’ve never dealt with this.”
He said refunding people was important because you could not fight with the audience.
He said there was no way they could predict a future breakout of a virus, when they planned for events at least five months in advance and requested the insurance in advance.
Segaole added that even if the government were to set up a relief fund, there was no way to tell who would get some type of compensation and who would not.