Pandemic Costly For Performing Arts Industry

by Kaelyn Smith

The nation’s performing arts industry — a spectacle of joy and beauty for millions — continues to struggle with the Covid-19 pandemic. Records from the nonprofit Americans for the Arts show that since the coronavirus swept through the United States the performing arts industry has lost more than $4.5 billion.

Rehearsals have also been greatly affected by health restrictions and the requirements to wear masks. Stephen Ziegler, a local choir-theater director at Norman Public Schools and conductor of Canterbury Youth Voices, said the pandemic has affected his classes. 

“Masks are required for all students and staff,” he said. “Class sizes have been reduced, large meetings and events cancelled, higher levels of sanitation implemented.”  

Zielger has had to adjust how he teaches classes and how he presents the curriculum. Even with the changes, he said he has still looked through it all with a positive outlook in mind. 

“The challenges of this time in our history have certainly caused much upheaval to our ‘modus operandi,’ but I have found that being in the same room together with a group of people has been our root system for growth, even though the fruits may look different than in the past,” he said. “The biggest shift for me, therefore, has been to focus more on the big picture rather than be concerned too much with the details.” 

When asked the question when things would go back to normal in his rehearsals, he had this very honest remark to say.  “The answer to this question is unknown,” he said. “It seems that it will be some time before we are able to return to ‘normal,’ and perhaps in some ways we will not see a return to the previous status quo.”

Not only have teachers been affected but also the students. 

One CYV singer said COVID-19 had taken a toll on her mom’s body. She said her mother has struggled with lupus, an autoimmune disease and the sickness hurt her mom’s lungs significantly.  Her mother was put on oxygen for two weeks and has been unable to workout. 

Even with the world in chaos, people are still working hard to bring some beauty and light with the performing arts. Together, we can look at the bigger picture and have hope for a brighter tomorrow. 

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