- 06 May 21
A new study undertaken by The Actors Fund has detailed the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on those working in the entertainment industry.
A new survey conducted by The Actors Fund has shined a troubling light on COVID-19's impact on performers, actors, dancers, musicians and other employees within the entertainment world.
The national organisation surveyed 7,163 people who sought its assistance during the pandemic, noting the mental health impact and harrowing financial insecurity created by COVID-19.
Of those who were surveyed, 76% reported loss of income, 62% lost part-time or gig employment, 50% lost full-time jobs in entertainment and 22% said they do not know when they will return to work.
The study also noted that BIPOC respondents, which made up roughly a third of those surveyed, were more likely to experience food insecurity, housing changes, increased debt and changed utility usage as compared to white respondents.
Actors Fund CEO Joe Benincasa said in a statement, “The last year has exposed how vulnerable people in our community are. We need to continue to provide critical support while the industry safely returns to work, and we intend to continue to explore ways to ensure more access to our services going forward.”
The Actors Fund served more than 40,000 individuals in 2020, a 71% increase increase from 2019.
“Clearly, we were able to help lessen the impact of the pandemic, but the pandemic has a long tail,” Actors Fund COO Barbara Davis said in a statement. “Now, we need to continue to provide direct financial assistance, must help more people access health insurance and receive health care, and provide mental health and other support services as the entertainment industry gradually returns.”
Ireland's artists have now suffered over a year of consistent lockdowns and Government restrictions, leaving many without a source of income or a sense of purpose. Niall Stokes, editor of Hot Press, recently examined the current state of the nation's music industry:
"The biggest frustration is that there is no evidence of a plan as to how the industry can be resuscitated – because the health authorities seem immune to understanding the colossal scale of the damage being inflicted," Stokes wrote.
"There are music industry professionals operating at the top of the profession, earning good money, who had mortgages and other commitments to match, and who were told unceremoniously: shut the doors and get out of there. And who have not been in a position to earn a red cent in the interim, but have been forced to exist instead on €350 a week."
"A lot of people in the music industry – and throughout the hospitality and entertainment industries – feel that there has to be some kind of reckoning, a moment when the burden of the torture inflicted is redistributed, and shared equally across all areas of Irish society."
In our 'Music Industry in Ireland: Where To Next?' special, which features in the current Hot Press issue, musician Rosie Carney shared her own experiences of navigating the COVID-19 pandemic as an Irish artist.
"The impact it’s had on people’s mental health, not only for me, but also for people I know. It’s been a severely isolating time and it has really hit home for me. At the beginning it definitely derailed me. I went into a kind of vicious survival mode, but when I got home to my family, the heaviness of it all eased for me."
"Not being able to perform in front of an audience has been tough," Rosie added. "I’ve been able to record lots of music, but being limited to promoting it only online has proven difficult for someone like me, who struggles to navigate the online world."
"I can only describe it as having the rug pulled from beneath me," the singer-songwriter said. "luckily, I had the right people around me to help see me through it. It’s been an important and eye-opening experience. Being forced to come to a standstill and look around at where I was, I quickly realised I wasn’t where I wanted to be. There’s been a lot of treading water, but I feel like I’m through the worst of it."
Maya Cullen Petrović of Jawdropper Music also spoke about the last 12 months and the future of the Irish music industry - especially the live music scene.
"The lack of live shows has had an enormous affect on the creative growth of our artists. While we’re all struggling, the mental well-being of artists has also been a big concern. I’ve found this year to be isolating – and definitely a struggle at times. When you’re used to being surrounded by people at gigs and industry events, it’s a huge transition to spending so much time alone, both during the day and in the evenings. However, as we have had a busy year, I’ve had work to focus on which has kept me mentally busy. For that, I’m grateful."
"I’m optimistic about some things, as we’ve had quite a successful year for our artists, but I’m nervous about the live sector re-opening – which is really important for artists," Petrović continues.
"I just hope that Covid won’t have a negative impact on the numbers of people attending shows. We need to have proper precautions in place for returning to shows, with rapid testing at venues. Only then, and with adequate preventative measures in place, will people feel safe returning to indoor venues"
'Music Industry in Ireland: Where To Next?' runs to over 20 pages and featuring music industry professionals as well as artists, including; Moya Brennan, Jess Kav, Luka Bloom, Fia Moon, Kneecap, Gavin Glass, Mick Flannery, King Kong Company, Mary Coughlan, Rosie Carney and many more.