The arrival of COVID-19 has hurt many people and industries, with upwards of 20.5 million people filing for unemployment in the U.S. as of May 2020. One particular industry that is suffering due to the pandemic is the performing arts.
Performing arts is a broad term that encompasses a large range of performances, including dance, comedy, musical theatre, opera, and orchestral performances, just to name a few. With strict rules on social distancing and audience restrictions, many companies and organizations have had to close down business and cancel shows up to 2021, with some dates continuing to be pushed back further. According to Newsweek, entertainment company Cirque du Soleil was forced to lay off 95 percent of its workers after the pandemic forced the closure of its global shows. Additionally, operas and symphonies have had to close their performances and premieres. As social distancing measures progressed, the Boston Symphony Orchestra was forced to cancel their Asian tour and the Metropolitan Opera was required to postpone its shows and premieres.
Unfortunately, while companies have resorted to online performances, many performers are unable to sustain themselves in a largely self-employed industry. Some measures like socially-distanced rehearsals have been attempted, but with large groups like ballet ensembles and symphony orchestras, performers often have no choice but to stay close to one another.
The future remains unclear for the performing arts industry, but hope remains as performers look forward to a future where they can once again put on shows for the public.