Whilst celebrating her success in achieving her Masters of Music award during lockdown, local musician Annie Potter has suffered both financially and mentally from restrictions as a result of Covid lockdowns – along with many other performers in the Scarborough area. Having had around 30 gigs cancelled, including weddings and parties, she and partner Steve turned to online playing, but found it hard to get motivated without an audience (although those of us attending their lockdown gigs really did appreciate them!).
Annie also lost more than 70% of her music students in March; as Sam Woodland (Teacher and Cruise Ship performer) mentioned ‘my amount of students has halved since the current transfer to online teaching, due to younger students struggling with concentration when not face to face, and so choosing not to continue online’. Sarah Dew (Music Teacher and performer) has lost all her freelance music and singing teaching in schools during lockdown 1, and not all have resumed, due to space issues with schools and restrictions on singing. As Raven gigs were also cancelled, Sarah’s ability to earn a living has also gone.
Mental health is an aspect of lockdown that is frequently mentioned in relation to isolation and loneliness. Our musicians are experiencing mental and emotional distress due to lack of opportunity to perform. As Katherine Kelly puts it ‘ Live music is an essential part of local communities. It’s a time for people to gather, to interact, and be part of something. For a lot of us, not being able to perform is having a significant impact on our mental health’.
With the temporary closure of performance venues, there is concern that some may not have the financial resources to survive and re-open. A bit of good news comes from Mojos on Victoria Road: ‘Mojos is hoping to be able to resume live music, the acoustic session is the highlight of some customers week and somewhere to go and forget any troubles for an hour and be surrounded by like minded souls. It needs to resume and continue as long as possible’.
So with little or no financial support from Government, worries about whether venues will even be there for future performances, teaching work not available or accessible, gigging and touring out of the question – the final insult from a heedless Government was for our wonderful talented musicians to be advised to retrain!
This article is one of an occasional series about the impact of Covid on our local communities. If you would be interested in sharing your own experiences, we would love to hear from you!