The latest COVID-19 wave has caused so much physical and financial damage to performing arts in Japan that some insiders fear the industry may cease to exist.
The number of virus-related cancellations of stage performances soared in July, and the situation hasn’t improved this month.
Organizers of the canceled shows are having a difficult time receiving compensation for the losses incurred under the existing relief setup.
The bleak situation was described at a symposium held on Aug. 1 by the Japan Performing Arts Solidarity Network.
“We had to postpone the opening day of the August performance, too, because some of us tested positive for COVID-19 during rehearsal,” one member of the group said.
Another said, “We are becoming a weak industry as the costs to stage performances are rising.”
The network consists of more than 240 promoters, production companies and theater companies.
In July, the group said, a total of 676 performances of 128 shows were canceled, around 4.7 times the monthly average for the period between January and June.
The performers usually do not wear facemasks on stage, so they are using other measures, such as taking COVID-19 tests, to prevent themselves from spreading the virus among their colleagues.
However, the novel coronavirus continues to rage across the country. And positive test results are increasing in the performing arts industry.
Tatsuya Ito, head of the Japan Performing Arts Solidarity Network’s secretariat, said if someone working for a stage performance tests positive, those in “close contact” will also take tests. And many of them, including asymptomatic people, have turned out to be infected.
“As a result, shows are forced to be canceled,” Ito said…
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