Right now many of my fellow colleges and friends have left NYC temporarily or for good. The departures haven't been confined to those I know. Many in NYC have packed up and left the "Big Apple" during 2020 as is evident if you follow the Instagram @stoopingnyc or just look out your window here in the city. An influx of moving vans, pristine stoop finds, and curbside couches scream, "EVERYONE IS LEAVING!"
The pandemic has made 2020 an especially hard year for artists in theatre, film, or any other live performance. Jobs that were lined up for the year slowly fell away one by one. New jobs that looked promising were scrapped or postponed for another time. I know I have had a very hard time planning what my future will look like because of the uncertainty and lack of jobs.
Some friends have used this time to branch out and start their own businesses; selling vintage, making jewelry, revamping Etsy stores, etc. I have tried to remain busy with projects as well, but again, the uncertainty rears its ugly head and things fall, change, get pushed back, etc.
With the amount of New Yorkers leaving, especially younger ones who are in the arts, I have begun to wonder what NYC's theatre and film scenes will become. I also wonder what other places' theatre and film will look like thanks to the new wave of talented people who have exited NYC. Could a Midwest town now become a hotbed for cutting edge theatre? I know there are many theatres that are coming up with new ways to share live art. The Omaha Community Playhouse, for example, is offering "drive-in" live events. These are mostly concert type theatrical performances, but those who attend feel safe and enjoy their night out. These style of "drive-in" theatres can only happen in places that have the space. NYC is so jam packed, I don't think anything along those lines would be feasible.
Many in NYC are still weighing the odds "should I stay or should I go?" It is the biggest gamble of most of our careers. Will theatre and film "come back" in a safe and sustainable way or will previous toxic practices be amplified by the current precautions? Will I be provided for at my job or treated like a pleb who must fend for myself when it comes to health and safety? Will I have to take a pay cut because my job now has to purchase PPE and "can't afford to pay my fee?" These are real worries from those in film and theatre when stepping back into their roles. It is not just "should I stay (in NYC) or should I go." It has now become "should I stay (in theatre/film/entertainment) or should I go."
I believe the world will miss out on so many talented and visionary artists because of how the pandemic was and is handled and how the aftermath will be handled in the future. It is hard to create and experiment when you are worried about your health, safety, home, and money all the same time. Others are trying to preserve a space for artists through campaigns, donations, etc. If you can, read up on them, find more, and participate how you can.
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