The Influence of Coronavirus on the Performing Arts
The Influence of Coronavirus on the Performing Arts
  • Jang Ye Rim
  • 승인 2020.04.16 00:37
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 The Seensee Company, a Korean musical production company posted an official notice that they canceled the scheduled musical “Mamma Mia!” and the play "Let the Right One In”. Especially, in the case of “Let Me In”, serious restrictions have been placed on not only immigration but also activities for everyday life throughout Europe with Pandemics declared all over the world due to the Coronavirus. Therefore, the national organization, NTS, no longer has the ability to send local staff who were scheduled to enter Korea sequentially. In addition, there are more cases of performance cancellations. Musical production company R&D Works also posted a notice about the cancellation of the scheduled musicals “Mama, Don’t cry” and “The Sound of Music”, “Red Cliff(Chibi)” was also canceled.

 As shown above, the local cultural and artistic circles are in great trouble as a series of performances and events were canceled due to the aftermath of COVID-19. In particular, artists with most freelancers face a threat to their livelihoods as their income has been cut off. As such, many of the scheduled performances in the performing world have actively participated in the two-week "stop" campaign to distance themselves from society, with many of the performances being temporarily postponed or canceled one after another. In South Gyeongsangnam-do, there were 21 performances in January 2020 and 23 performances in February, but the number of people who reserved tickets was 9,824 and 1,725, respectively, according to data from Korea performing Arts Box Office Information system (공연예술통합전산망). The figure represents an over 82 percent decrease in attendance compared to the same period last year.

 The pop music industry is also being hit hard by the coronavirus. The spread of coronavirus infection has led to the postponement or cancellation of a series of pop music performances, including concerts and music festivals, which is having a severe impact on smaller labels. L.I.A.K.(Record Label Industry Association of Korea), the Korea Music Label Industry Association, which is a division with 44 small and medium-sized labels and distributors as members, said that on February 24 that 61 of the events that its member companies had planned to hold from February 1 to April 11 were postponed or canceled, resulting in 3.6 billion won in losses. Altogether it is estimated that 200 performances nationwide were postponed or canceled


 Broadway theaters in New York decided to suspend all performances for a month from March 13 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This measure prompted many performances to be canceled, including the musical “Six,” which was scheduled to open on March 12. Broadway's suspension marks the first long-running suspension since a 19-day strike in 2017. In this situation, a strange phenomenon is emerging on Broadway and in the West End, two of the major mountain ranges of the world's performing arts, as online programs such as “Stars in the House” and “Living Room Concert” are encouraging Broadway stars to make donations to Actors' funds on the spur of the moment.

 Also, choreographers and dancers are holding free dance classes online. In England, 'The Show Must Go Online' was launched, where amateur actors read Shakespeare's works together on YouTube. There is an unusual scene in which actors and creators perform at their homes, not on stage. The audience is responding to this image as a fresh and good idea. Kim Hyo-jung, a columnist for “All that Art,” said the phrase "Show Must Go On," which performers around the world always exclaim is changing to the "Show Must Go Online" in the face of the plague of the 21st century.


 There are also ideas in Korea to console the situation in which the entire performing culture community has been hit hard by the influence of Coronavirus. "Hangout with Yoo (놀면 뭐하니?)”, a South Korean reality show program on MBC aired "Visit Concert"(방구석콘서트) which aired various stages of performances including musicals on TV. In addition, some production companies upload live and recorded broadcasts through online platforms, and the response from the general public as well as the performance-loving enthusiasts is favorable. However, experts say that the crisis could be used as an opportunity. By attempting to broadcast the show, various ways to generate profits from online content have been made, and viral marketing has become an important pillar in the content marketing market.

 Nevertheless, a national support system is still lacking. There is no supporting policy yet for those in the performing industry who have jobs in stage performances.  A Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (문화체육관광부) spokesperson said it will implement the "Artist Life Stabilization Fund" policy for COVID-19 artists starting this month, but it is not a fundamental solution because it deals only with loans. The performing industry is trying to overcome the current difficult situation through various methods. Many artists said that additional realistic institutional support is needed for the performing arts world, which is striving to overcome the crisis.



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