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Opinion - Shhh Karen!

Normally, this would be a column about the local music scene. But as the pandemic drags on, things become more difficult for the locals who work in the entertainment industry. When it first began, and the music and theatre scene was decimated for the good of public health, we all understood it. At the time all the best minds seemed to think that if we all just did the right thing, we could get things under control and be back to life as usual in a couple of months. That slowly turned into “we might need to tough it out until September.” Now as September is fast approaching, that deadline seems to be disappearing into the distance.

We have all done our bit, and the industry was happy to help. After all, when there is a significant national crisis, it’s the artists that everyone turns to for help raising money and awareness. Just as we went to print last month, the government finally addressed the arts for the very first time. Four months in. Sadly, it missed the mark in so many ways, but people in the industry also understand that there is not an unlimited supply of money, and a government program can not address every issue.

On a personal note, what is driving me out of my mind is knowing that everyone I have worked side by side with for over 20 years are still waiting, while a bunch of “Karen’s” and “Kevin’s” are recording themselves blowing through checkpoints designed to keep the rest of the country safe, heading off to the pub when they have just arrived back from Victoria and are meant to be in isolation, or abusing Bunning’s staff over their rights to (not) wear a mask.

I know if you listen to talkback radio you would assume that these are young people who just don’t care, but increasingly they are middle-aged people who have just decided they know better than every available expert and won’t have the government infringing on their rights, whatever that means. Last time I checked, me stopping someone from walking into my house if I didn’t want them there is not infringing on their personal freedom. Stop yelling at service staff. They don’t want to be there putting themselves at risk so you can shop for plants and gaffer tape. Shut up, Karen; no one cares. We all just want to get back to work.

Every promoter, theatre director, every venue and every artist I know is bending over backwards to comply with every directive. Agreeing to costs over and above what would typically be required just for the possibility of getting back to work because they know the people who rely on them for income are on their knees. In the gig economy, you are often working for yourself, so there’s no money going into super or away for a rainy day because everything is going to pay the bills. When that next gig suddenly goes away, it hurts. I work with an artist who has had to cancel upwards of 70 gigs, and nothing is getting booked in their place. They are not getting booked for future dates because no one knows when this will be over.

Wearing a mask is the least people can do.

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