Australian entertainers reveal the mental health toll of the pandemic in stirring new campaign
A gut-wrenching video has revealed the devastating impact of the pandemic upon individuals working in Australia’s entertainment and live sectors.
The emotional 10-minute video features appearances from a number of prominent Australian artists and entertainers across multiple disciplines, discussing how the pandemic has altered their financial wellbeing and mental health across the past 18 months.
Throughout the video, entertainers tearfully plead for further assistance from the Government and point towards the support shown to the sports industry, with some even questioning the longevity and worth of their career under current circumstances.
Australian juggler and comedian James Bustar, organiser of the impassioned video, said that he hoped that the video would shine a light on the financial and mental health challenges that those in the sector are currently battling.
“People see the work of the arts community in their lives every day but they don’t necessarily know what is going on in the background or the pressure that individual artists are under,” Bustar said.
“If nothing else, I hope the video shines a light on the crisis they are facing and the solution to help them get through it.”
Speaking to The Music Network, Bustar highlighted the pandemic’s immense impact on the entertainment sector, making note of those who play important roles behind the scenes of the industry.
“The pandemic has affected every aspect of the arts and entertainment sector, everyone from shoemakers for production shows, to lighting designers, to circus performers,” Bustar said.
“For the last 18 months, the arts feels like it’s been the ‘forgotten industry’, while at the same time it’s something that everyone watches or listens to every day. I’ve always been a juggler, I have never done anything else. It’s what I know and love and it’s my identity. The stage is my home.”
Bustar also said that while Government assistance is appreciated by the entertainment sector, further income protection is required to prop up sole traders until events can return as normal.
“As entertainers, we can’t just click our fingers the day after lockdown and go back to work,” he said.
“I have done five gigs since March 2020; I used to do over 200 a year, but yet, support for our industry isn’t given. I am one out of thousands impacted, and although the grants the Government has given venues are great, they don’t really help the entertainers who are impacted the most.”
Pointing out the stark differences in policy approaches to sporting events and the arts, Bustar noted that if entertainment was regarded as a sport then “we would still be gigging and playing, and would have media coverage every day”.
“I am not sure why we’re in the position to plea for our career, our love, our identity,” Bustar said.
“I have nothing against sports; they need to make their career and people enjoy watching it and supporting their teams, but why the double standards? Arenas can open and have thousands cheering on their team, but then theatres are closed.
“They will do everything in their power to get the teams across borders and create bubbles, but then when theatres in Melbourne ask if they can have a rehearsal bubble with the actors, the Government says no.