Heidi Kirchofer and her husband Joel Melendez knew even before Gov. Ned Lamont shut down non-essential businesses that they were in trouble. As circus artists – performers and teachers – their close-up work with students and crowded performance spaces were just not going to cut it in a coronavirus world.
So, they closed everything,
“Zero work and zero income and usually having zero access to unemployment,” Kirchofer said from her home in Harwinton, where instead of juggling circus objects and the difficulties of mid-air acrobatics, she is juggling two sons and figuring out how to keep food on the table.
“Costs are the same. I’m looking at how to save money,” she said. “It’s tough. We’re artists. We already do that.”
Independent artists like Kirchofer have understood the realities of the gig economy since long before the likes of Uber propelled that title into the popular lexicon. Employment for many, many artists has always consisted of stringing together gigs, short-term regular and irregular contracts and all manner of freelance. But it has never had the safety net classic employment has – unemployment benefits…
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