Commentary: How the COVID-19 coronavirus is changing the arts & entertainment industry

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As we all know by now, the COVID-19 coronavirus has caused many things to come to a complete halt in our personal lives.

Throughout quarantine, many people have worked from home, participated in online school and learned how to continue living their lives from their homes. 

The arts and entertainment industry has been affected the most during the pandemic. People in this industry earn their living off live concerts, recording albums, selling art in gallery shows, on-stage performances in musicals and plays, and working on sets to produce the TV shows and movies that got us all through quarantine. 

I interviewed two local musicians and a local visual art student to discuss with them how the coronavirus has changed the industry and the obstacles they’ve personally experienced throughout this time. 

When I spoke with Madison Ryan, a local musician from Harrisburg, she explained to me that not only are musicians having a difficult time because they are unable to play live shows, but they are also running into difficulty recording and even rehearsing because of having to socially distance. 

Ryan shared that she and her band have been using Zoom to rehearse.

While this may seem upsetting, Ryan said she has found a new love of writing music for other artists. 

Sean Cawley, bassist for the band Youthfool, which combines indie rock with styles from the 1980s, shared his perspective. While it has been difficult, both his band and other musicians he collaborates with have been recording together during this time but doing everything piece-by-piece and editing it together from home. 

Heather Roach, an art student at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, shared that the most difficult part of this situation for her is not being able to be in her school’s art studio with her other classmates. Art is a very collaborative learning environment, so not having that has made it difficult for all of these artists to learn from each other’s creative process. 

However, Roach has found that it is easier to make art that is relatable to everyone because everyone is going through this time of isolation together.

While it has been a challenge, the arts and entertainment industry has had to quickly adapt and evolve in order to survive, and everyone is finding unique ways to do so, like how some musicians have been holding drive-in concerts as a way to still play live shows and maintain social distancing.

There have recently been multiple examples of how people in the industry are using technology as a way to get their work out. 

For example, multiple Broadway musicals have recently released recordings of their productions through streaming services like BroadwayHD and most notably, the release of “Hamilton” on Disney+, which originally was not supposed to be released until the show had finished its run on Broadway. 

While these unprecedented times have created a lot of uncertainty in the entertainment industry, these artists and creators are resilient and determined to get their work out. The Coronavirus definitely has not made it easy to share their art, but as days pass, they are finding creative ways to get around the challenges they are facing. 

Now it is up to us, their audience, to continue to support them even if we can’t do it in person.

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