How performers from south London fared during the pandemic

Graduates, teachers, and performers in south London feel underappreciated as a consequence of the pandemic.

Professional singer Kathleen Linton-Ford sings for Songbird Entertainment Ltd and the Warble Entertainment Agency.

However, due to COVID-19 her performances were cancelled, some even after she had arrived at the venue, back in March 2020.

Linton-Ford said: “Performances sold out very quickly, but even a full house was tiny and unprofitable.”

She argued that the Government has failed in its response to helping the arts industry.

Linton-Ford claimed: “There is a culpable failure to understand how the finances of theatres and events work and allocate funds accordingly.

“Many theatres will never re-open.

“Think about supporting digital performances because people illogically assume these should be free.”

Karla Marsland, who just graduated from Northbrook Theatre, agreed.

The 22-year-old said: “Shows like Hamilton were put on Disney + to bring joy to people during lockdown, yet us actors were left without any money or jobs.

“It blows my mind and makes no sense to me.”

Carmel Skinner, a 22-year-old graduate from The Bridge Theatre Training Company, has jumped at every opportunity to survive this weird standstill in her career.

Her final term was in Autumn/Winter 2020 which meant her showcase happened in a Tier 4 London.

Skinner said: “No agents got to come and watch us, which is the entire thing you work towards when you go to drama school.

“But it’s not like the whole industry has died and it’s never going to come back. It will come back.”

Regardless of this ‘new norm’, Skinner is adamant that there is nothing she would rather do for a career.

Having landed a role in a commercial mid-January 2021, everyone had to get COVID tests, wear face masks, stay two metres apart, and get temperature checks twice daily.

She praised the company’s management of the situation and is grateful actors still have some options.

In this new era of acting, there are many struggles that actors will experience.

Skinner stated: “When I had my recall for this commercial it was on Zoom and it was tricky because I had a 10-to-15-minute slot to do all these things and the limited space was difficult.

“I felt like if I catch coronavirus I’m going to lose this job, which is something previously you didn’t have to worry about.”

Mary Crabtree, 23, also just graduated from The Bridge, and agreed that actors got the short straw out of this pandemic.

She said: “I thought the government did an appalling job, neglecting freelance actors and freelance musicians.

“They just prioritised rich companies like Heathrow to allow people to go on holiday.”

Actress, YouTuber, and drama teacher Anna Tyrie, based in London, is urging young actors to diversify their skills during lockdown, to be prepared for a career post-COVID.

“You could write a play, choreograph awesome routines, compose a piece of music, set up a YouTube channel, or create a revenue stream by learning how to edit videos and how to build websites,” said Tyrie.

She also said the furlough scheme did not apply to performers, most of whom had to rely on the Self-Employed grant.

However, performance work is not always constant, so their average earnings were brought down.

“I know some people who were left with no options but to pack up and move back in with their parents,” Tyrie said.

She added: “I was shocked that shows could not go ahead but that flights to holiday destinations were still allowed.

“However, art will always survive because artists create out of love and passion for their work, and I believe the arts industry will come out of this like a phoenix from the flame.”

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