Did the Government Leave the Performing Arts Behind During Lockdown?

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By Caitlin Macdonald

In 2020 we began to endure the greatest struggle most of us will have ever faced, we began to live through a global pandemic. In Scotland, on the 14th August 2020 it was announced that live music and background music in pubs, venues and restaurants would be banned. As the only country with this rule there was a lot of backlash facing the decision. Although some would argue it was for the best to stop people shouting over each other and potentially spreading the virus through droplets, it was costing those in the music industry their career. One band that faced the harsh reality of not being able to perform live is Parliamo. Parliamo is a band from Perth, Scotland that was formed in 2015. Jack Daley, lead singer and Finn Morrison, guitarist of the band, both shared their thoughts and experiences of this new normal.
When asked how the pandemic has affected their band Finn said: “A big part of our band is the live things, obviously we love recording but gigs were the main thing for us, we loved the buzz of the gig. It was just a big part of our lives and then suddenly that gets taken away, it’s a big hit to us but it’ll come back eventually won’t it”. Jack added: “It’s been a blessing and a curse, not being able to play live is a real hit but at the same time being in lockdown we’ve written so many songs and sort of matured our sound and stuff so it’s been beneficial for us as well as detrimental”.
Many in the arts industry found the idea of having to ‘adapt’ to the new changes and circumstances very insulting. Jack voiced his opinion on this topic by saying: “All I would say to anybody who’s been even slightly disheartened by what the government are saying, don’t listen to that, totally disregard that as they’ve disregarded you because they don’t understand what music means to people, they don’t get it, they’ll never understand what it means to people so don’t for a second ever listen to what they’re saying. If you want to do something and you’ve got the talent go and do it”.
For many, their jobs had been affected by this virus spreading all over the world, however, for a large majority they could work from home and know that their jobs were still there for when they return back to the office. Those in the performing arts industry unfortunately didn’t have that luxury and after Rishi Sunak, the chancellor of the Exchequer, announced that those in the industries that have been devastated by coronavirus should find new jobs, this including the arts and nightlife, many in the industry were up in arms to defend the jobs they love. Both performers agreed that their income had been vastly affected by the pandemic. Jack started with: “Not being able to perform in pubs at the weekend anymore anyway has pretty much stripped me of my entire income and in the sense of the band not being able to play has made sure that we’ve not got any income for the band so we can’t really progress ourselves in that sense so yeah it’s been detrimental” Finn continued with: “We were very reliant on the band’s funds for stuff like the recording and touring purposes. It would be a lot to save up for going on tour for the bus and hotel and stuff, so we had to make money off gigs in order to put back into the band and now we’re going to be at a point where it’s going to be self-funded because there’s not as much money coming into the band as before, so for gigs, this is all coming out of our back pocket, some of it was already before but even more so now it’s going to be a struggle to push forward with it if we want to go further but we’ll get there definitely. I’m not too worried”.
It’s not only financially performers have been affected by coronavirus; it is also mentally. When asked how the pandemic has affected the Parliamo performers mental health Jack said: “We made the best of what we had, we’ve been recording and writing a lot so it’s given us a chance to do that but I can imagine for a lot of people who play other people’s music and make a living off of playing other people’s songs in pubs”. He continued with: “That was my job, playing gigs in pubs every weekend so having that stripped off me was pretty brutal but I got a job in the pub where I played as well just behind the bar so it’s been okay, but the pubs are shut now so it’s just one thing after another. So, yeah it is detrimental to your mental state in the sense that everything that you want to do and love to do is kind of slowly being stripped away but if you get a bit of perspective on it, we’re lucky enough to still have a flat and still be able to support ourselves when a lot of people have genuinely just lost their entire livelihood so, you’ve got to look at it in that way as well”.

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