Alan Dearling and Rhiannon Crutchley muse on some of the divisive issues facing musicians, artists, creators and performers in the New Covid world
The range of ‘challenges’ for gigs and festies – organisers, performers and audience: It’s all become one heck of a lot more contentious. And confusing. And complex and transitory…
Now, and into the immediate future, with more street protests, raves, ‘illegal’ events and festies, a lot of travel is likely to take place without any social distancing – in the UK and across Europe and beyond. Yet, with quarantine regs and Brexit, musos and creative-folk are very much finding themselves on the Frontline battleground.
Alan: I’ve been continuing to create articles for the magazines, sadly including many about Covid. I may be able to work as a journalist/photographer at some music/arts events in the UK later in the year, but many have been postponed or cancelled. I’m definitely worried about spreading infection if I re-commence running my musical ‘noise’ events/workshops, where dozens and sometimes hundreds of folk get the chance to be playful, share and handle a huge number of instruments, especially percussion.
The UK is now officially in the Third Wave, and cases and hospitalisations, if not deaths, are now the highest in Europe. And, Scotland and England are facing the greatest exponential growth of Covid cases, especially among the under-30 year-olds. There is, judging from the UK news, once again, a likelihood that the devolved UK nations may make different decisions re-Covid strategies.
I usually work at a lot of EDM, reggae and other dance events and we are led to believe that my sort of audience are at high risk as we go into summer/autumn 2021.
‘Freedom Day’ was announced for June 19th in England, but has come and gone. We still have many travel restrictions, face coverings and social distancing.
Plus, we have to consider documentation for:
– vaccination tests (one and two)
– proof of negative tests for Covid
– insurance for event planners
The regulations are changing daily. The politicians and scientists are ever more divided too.
Should we follow the data, not the dates?
Do we now need to open up society fully and ‘live with Covid’ just like with flu and other contagious diseases?
The ‘Economist’ magazine is now publishing a regular World ‘Normalcy’ data set. Weird World when we have to scientifically evaluate what is ‘Normality’.
The Delta variant is much more transmissible, yet Covid regulations look set to be relaxed in the UK whilst they vary significantly around the world.
More and more legally-sanctioned Covid ‘test’ events for sport, arts and music can go ahead, but are subject to varying test and trace rules and access regulations. Yet, each day, we have witnessed hundreds and thousands of sports fans running amok with no sign of social distancing or face-coverings. It’s hypocritical and frightening for many.
Despite what is actually taking place, Covid regulations are still in force across the UK for:
– social distancing and face coverings in venues, especially the rules for indoor spaces/table-service
– Covid tests (PCR and Lateral-flow) for travel to and from events – potential for quarantining and self-isolation post events (and high costs involved)
– entry checks and Covid rules for serving drinks/food at tables
– potential legal responsibility for Covid cases linked to events
– travel rules using reciprocal ‘traffic light’ systems and a whole raft of exclusions/bans/quarantines/self-isolation are rapidly changing – often daily across the world. Even more confusion!
– In the UK there is now talk of a 3rd ‘booster’ jab in the autumn, perhaps integrated with the flu vaccination programme.
I’m conflicted. I personally want to get on with my life and join in with many others all over the world. But, not at a high-risk cost in spreading the virus and even potentially helping to cause deaths. I’m a bit less worried as a photographer at events, but the big dance gatherings, such as Boom and OZORA are awesome and full-on, even when outdoors, likewise, many indoor ones, where it is often a mosh pit and totally wedged…
It’s time to pass over to Rhiannon Crutchley, aka, boat-dweller, musician, Brewer’s Daughter.
Rhiannon: It’s funny how those that are against the vaccine are so vocal about it. Yet those that believe in it just seem to be getting on with it. I’ve felt like I need to keep it to myself for fear of being ostracised or basically told I’m going to fuck myself up because of it. I believe the scientific research more than I believe this weird media-spun conspiratorial bullying. I believe we are in a complete position of privilege to be offered it. I fully support the vaccination program. It brings me very long-awaited relief to be part of the solution. It’s incredibly damaging when those who are against it rally for everyone else to not accept this thing that might actually save the world. I fully understand those that are not willing to have the vaccine too, it’s freedom of choice.
Speaking of freedom, the upheaval over the end of restrictions… it’s not about how the government have taken your liberties away – we’ve all put up with restrictions as a moral obligation to thwart what we can of the pandemic. I’ve given up most of my job as a musician and my job will be the last to fully surface. Yes, it’s easy to blame our incompetent government for their awful handling of this whole mess, but I’ve been making up my own restrictions like I always did anyway, separate to government guidance. There’s still a pandemic riffling through the world, that means there’s still a need to live differently. I’ve accepted I won’t be able to travel round the world anytime soon, I live for that shit. But I’ll sure as hell be glad to be vaccinated the next time I step off a plane in Mumbai and crawl up to the upper bunk of a 24 hour Indian train ride. People think this shit is oppression. I don’t think you’ve ever been oppressed.
I’ve had my first jab now, so I don’t really wanna hear any scepticism about it, the damage is done… if there was ever gunna be any.
On the morning of my jab I was freaking out because of freaky-ass rumours that have Chinese-whispered their way through my friendship group. I then read a poem by Hollie McNish that reminded me why it was so fucking important to shake the bullshit scepticism and go get the fucking jab.
Hollie lost her Grandma during the pandemic, they were close, she had to attend a Zoom funeral. It was shit not hugging. This reminded me that after my mother’s funeral, lockdown 1.0 hit and I couldn’t get a hug for 3 weeks. (Hollie McNish: https://holliepoetry.com/)
My neighbours were super freaked and full of fear and my partner was building a huge Corona hospital in Cardiff stadium being offered a job hoofing about bodybags.
Dystopian as fuck.
I remembered all the compromises we have made.
I got the jab so the next woman does not have to grieve her mother alone.
Rhiannon: A phrase that seems to round the whole thing up is…Let’s make social responsibility cool again. It’s what anarchism is all about.
Alan: It’s a good phrase, Rhi, but a lot of people – not just the young – are not really looking to be responsible at the moment. Just look at the footy!
Rhiannon Crutchley: https://www.facebook.com/thebrewersdaughter
Alan Dearling: http://www.enablerpublications.co.uk/