Is the Coronavirus Killing The Arts?

The worldwide entertainment industry is rapidly responding to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak threat, taking it as seriously as those stripping supermarket shelves of toilet paper.

The first major indication of this came with the cancellation of the 34th annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, after tech companies Apple, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok withdrew their participation in the event. The massive music, tech and film festival was set to run from March 13 to 22, with many events planned for venues and spaces across the American city and thousands booked into local accommodation with hundreds of artists set to perform.
Festival organisers said they did not have insurance to cover cancellation by pandemics or communicable diseases, and would be laying off over a third of their full-time staff.

The next major indicator came when organisers of Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, usually held in April, postponed the event until October:

The festival will now take place October 9-11 and October 16-18. All tickets purchased for the April event will be honoured in October. Frank Ocean, Rage Against The Machine and Travis Scott are amongst the headliners scheduled to perform. Aussies who made the cut this year include Flume, Amyl and the Sniffers, The Chats, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Skegss.

Miley Cyrus yesterday announced she would no longer be heading to Australia to headline a bushfire fundraiser in Melbourne this Friday with The Veronicas and Lil Nas X.
“Due to the recommendations of local, state, federal and international government authorities, including the Center for Disease Control, to reduce potential health risks in response to the current global health crisis, we are no longer traveling to Aus for the show,” Cyrus said on Twitter on Tuesday.
“I am so disappointed to not be there, but I have to do what is right to protect the health and safety of my band and crew. I will still be making a donation to help the victims of the Australian bush fire. I’m sorry to miss everyone in Australia, but I will be back soon.”

This came after Russell Brand cancelled his show in Perth on Monday following a confirmed case of Coronavirus in someone who had recently attended a performance at the same venue:

This morning, Dark Mofo festival in Hobart announced its cancellation for 2020 in a lengthy Facebook post. Organiser David Walsh said, “…if we ran Dark and nobody came, I’d lose $5 million or more, because I would have to cover the absent ticket revenue. Leigh Carmichael, Dark Mofo’s boss, suggested an $8 million scenario: if a staff member contracted COVID-19 a week out from the festival, we’d have to cancel because the staff would need to self-isolate for two weeks, but we’d also have to pay all the artists. That kind of blowout would affect Mona’s program, and I’d be back to subsisting on the diet I had when I was eighteen—pineapples and mint slice biscuits.”
You can read the statement in full here:

So far, Bluesfest Byron Bay is going ahead as planned. Organisers released the following statement yesterday:
“We are all aware of COVID-19 in Australia and want to update you. Bluesfest Byron Bay will be going ahead as planned from 9 – 13 April 2020.
“Both NSW Health and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), the federal body, both report that attending public events such as Bluesfest are low risk. The report from the AHPPC on March 8 can be found on their website. Furthermore, on March 7, NSW Health issued their own report which too can be found on their website. We will keep you updated on any changes.
“We want to assure you that we are currently implementing the recommended extra safety measures and additional facilities in order to consider the general health and safety of patrons, artists and staff at the event.
“Bluesfest will be supplying additional hand sanitisation facilities at our toilets and throughout the festival site.
“If you’ve already purchased a ticket for Bluesfest, your ticket purchase is fully insured in case of cancellation due to this pandemic.
“Thank you for your continued support and looking forward to seeing you all here in Byron Bay this Easter!”

We have reached out to Groovin The Moo for their plans, but as far as we know they are going ahead as scheduled as well.

What we do know is, these events have been affected by COVID-19 across the globe:

  • Mariah Carey postponed her Hawaiian concert until November
  • Khalid held back the Asian leg of his tour
  • Ruel held back the Asian leg of his tour
  • BTS were unable to kick off their Map of the Soul Tour in Seoul, but were able to travel to the second stop in California
  • Stormzy had to cancel his Asian shows plus one in Zurich, where authorities banned events with more than 1,000 people in attendance
  • Green Day cancelled a string of Asian tour dates
  • Avril Lavigne cancelled her Asian tour
  • Louis Tomlinson cancelled a show in Milan, telling fans he will be “back in July”
  • Ciara was advised by doctors to avoid large crowds as she is pregnant, so she had to cancel a hometown performance in Fort Hood, Texas
  • Pearl Jam cancelled a four-month North American tour a week before they were scheduled to hit the road
  • The Metropolitan Opera in New York has issued a 14-day ban for any artists, performers or employees coming from China, Iran, Hong Kong, Japan, Italy or South Korea.
  • Madonna cancelled two shows in Paris due to restrictions on gatherings over 1,000 people
  • Kiss cancelled all meet and greets instead of cancelling shows on their End of the Road World Tour
  • RuPaul’s DragCon LA in May has been cancelled