Cooped up, but still spirited

Rockaway Festival in March has to be postponed as the arts and entertainment sectors take its toll from Covid-19

By AZALEA AZUAR

THE Covid-19 outbreak has taken a toll on the tourism, arts and entertainment sectors long before the Movement Control Order (MCO) was introduced, with countless events had to be postponed.

The Visual Art Project 4 Finalist Exhibition and Panggung Riuh, which was organised by MyCreative Ventures Sdn Bhd (MyCV), were supposed to be held on Feb 29 to March 1 this year.

Unfortunately, both events had to be moved to a later date, stipulated around July 4 and July 5.

International music festivals such as Rockaway Festival which was meant to be held on March 14 and March 15 had also been postponed to a later date.

The event which is supposed to be “Malaysia’s biggest rock festival” was to be held at Bukit Jalil Stadium, Kuala Lumpur, where it would accommodate 51,000 participants.

The Rockaway Festival was set to feature performances from international bands such as Atreyu (US), Hands Like Houses (Australia) and Lacuna Coil (Italy), as well as performances from local legends such as Datuk M Nasir and Hujan.

Losses All Around

As a full-time performer, “Mentor Otai” winner Elvira Arul said it is an absolutely daunting period as the industry is at a complete standstill.

“Our main source of income is from live gigs. With no live gigs, we have no means of paying our bills and supporting the (many) mouths we need to. These are just the necessities,” she told The Malaysian Reserve via WhatsApp.

During the MCO, Elvira has to rely on odd jobs and her family.

“February saw a dozen bookings lost. I know I am or was not alone. A postponement is still a cancellation of a booked day. Most humans don’t get that,” Elvira said.

She also had to forego income that was supposed to be made at festivals and award shows, as well as countless other events.

All is not lost as the MCO has given Elvira the opportunity to do things which she had never got the time to do previously, like cooking. She is also looking at how to improve other skills.

“For example — vocal coaching — which I have been doing on the down-low for a while now. But it is tough as no one is spending moving forward and I honestly don’t blame them not knowing when and where their next paycheque is coming from,” she said.

Currently, Elvira is preparing for Ramadhan, Raya and the second half of the year.

“I’m looking into holding more vocal coaching classes and opening it up more than merely with industry people.”

Elvira is also worried that others are not taking the Covid-19 pandemic seriously.

“At my last show during the ending of the performance, the audience wanted to take pictures with us and shake our hands while I repeatedly used the words ‘covid’ or ‘corona’ and extended my elbow instead. People still came in for a hug or a kiss,” she added.

Window for Opportunities

Tamil-singer Santosh Logandran has lost almost RM15,000 in two months due to cancellations and postponed shows.

However, he would rather stay safe than dead. Right now, he is spending the MCO period by building an online presence and also catching up on his music lessons and practice sessions.

“I have been using my savings mostly to sustain my livelihood. But I am also a composer and I have built a set-up at home where I produce music for other artists. I’m also working on scoring for film,” Santosh explained.

After the MCO is over, he has high hopes that he’d be able to create a strong online presence and translate that audience engagement to live shows.

“The plan is to perform more and travel more as a musician,” he said.

Private Shows in Your Living Room

Just because mass gatherings are banned at this time, it doesn’t mean the artistes can’t perform for their fans. They just do it remotely, with the help of Instagram live.

Famous singers such as Datuk Siti Nurhaliza, Yuna and Dayang Nurfaizah are singing for their fans from their homes.

RIUH is currently hosting ‘RIUH in your Homes’ throughout the MCO, which is available via their Instagram account @riuhinthecity where different singers would perform at 8.30 pm.

Coffee brand Wonda Coffee also hosted its #WONDADiRumah concert which featured performances from Aizat Amdan, Noh Salleh, Syamel, Zizi Kirana, Haqiem Rusli, Akim and Stacy.

From March 16 until April 14, the Musicians For Musicians Malaysia (MFMM) association has been live-streaming performances on its Facebook page at 8.30pm.

The musicians consist of local talents who will perform songs based on the “Isolation Music” theme.

Hopefully, the projects will keep music lovers entertained while they stay put at home.