For the umpteenth time, entertainers and event promoters have once again expressed deepening concern that they are being overlooked for support calling on government to open the industry as the pandemic threatens their careers and livelihoods.
BEPA president, Gilbert Seagile this week told Arts & Culture in an interview that industry players have gone for far too long without any source of livelihoods, which has led to some being auctioned or served with civil imprisonment charges.
Seagile also said the creative industry has been one of the hardest hit sectors by COVID-19 with the local industry going more than 17 months with no action on the live entertainment scene due to the imposed lockdown regulations and curfews. “In times of this crisis, BEPA feels that government has taken more than the expected time without coming with contemplative measures to resuscitate or recuperate the creative industry.
Without immediate action, the negative consequences of this crisis will affect much more than our economy. We might not be able to recover from this entertainment shock for many years, losing much of the richness and diversity of the entertainment and cultural scene,” said Seagile. He called on the COVID-19 Task Force as well as Cabinet to take immediate action across all policy areas necessary to make a strong and sustained impact both in the short and long-term.
For safe opening, BEPA demands at 30% venue capacity or 100 indoor attendants and for 250 outdoor events. The association suggested that the events should end at 8pm or be regulated by curfew times. BEPA said events could be held on strictly presold tickets for tracing purposes and sold to people who produce negative test certificates in order to encourage people to test.
The promoters also suggested that there should be breaks of 30 minutes after every two hours to allow random fumigation. Seagile said whilst their previous pleas for the opening of the industry hit a snag, they won’t give up. “We don’t see why we can’t be allowed to host live events while the church is allowed to congregate. Most promoters and entertainers can hardly make a living. Many are struggling to even pay their rent. It is time we found ways to live with COVID-19,” he added. According to Seagile, many countries have opened their entertainment industries in line with the WHO protocols and this can also be done locally.
He said it is now evident that the COVID-19 wave has now subsided looking at the dropping numbers of infections. This BEPA plea comes on the backdrop of another failed attempt by the association to enlist entertainers as frontliners in the fight against COVID-19.