How You Can Support The Arts During The Lockdown
Luzon’s enhanced community quarantine has closed theatre shows in a time that was to become Manila’s most vibrant season yet
On March 11, I caught what would have become Matilda’s closing show at the Theatre in Solaire. The production by the Royal Shakespeare Company was the original staging of the show on the West End, and it was highly anticipated, getting an extension that was supposed to last until late March. That same week, I had been gearing up to watch several other shows: Anna and the Tropics that Friday, and The Band’s Visit and Dekada ’70 the day after that. Early March was the beginning of what was supposed to have been an exceptionally vibrant month for local theatre, until the COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to shutter until further notice, closing scheduled shows and suspending rehearsals for upcoming ones.
On the other side of the world, Broadway and the West End have also been affected. Aside from the closure of theatres there, major award shows, like the Tonys and the Olivier Awards, have also been postponed. In light of the closures, several creators, producers, and theatre companies have released what they can online for free so that audiences can satisfy their theatre cravings and also so that they can generate revenue for their businesses and raise funds for frontliners.
In the United States, Broadway.com brought back The Rosie O’Donnell Show for one night, bringing together stage actors in a 3-hour livestream of chit-chat and performances, for the benefit of The Actors Fund. Similarly, Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley speak to actors of stage and screen every day through Stars In The House, an initiative that also aims to raise funds for The Actors Fund. In the Philippines, similar initiatives have been set in place, from Ryan Cayabyab’s Bayanihan, Musikahan to Philstage’s Open House.
For Bayanihan, Musikahan, an artist goes live each day, performing a home concert while at the same time encouraging fans to donate to various organizations helping those stricken the hardest by the pandemic: Likhaan, Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Pamilya ng Pantawid, and Caritas Manila. As of March 23, Bayanihan Musikahan has raised over 9 million pesos. To donate, check out the Bayanihan, Musikahan Facebook.
Philstage, on the other hand, started Open House, an online fundraising project for the benefit of the performing arts community. Many of the performers in the local theatre industry are freelancers, and so the closure of shows have left them with uncertainty regarding their livelihood. In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Philstage president Audie Gemora and several other stage actors, including Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, spoke about how the COVID-19 crisis has affected them and their colleagues.
Through Open House, fans can support the industry by mounting Facebook Live events, which included a ballet barre class with Liza Macuja-Elizalde, a song interpretation workshop with Audie Gemora, and a live show by Silly People’s Improv Theatre (SPIT). Upcoming activities include an April 2 roundtable composed of female theatre directors, including Jenny Jamora, Missy Maramara, and Menchu Lauchengco. On April 7, Mula Sa Buwan will be streaming scenes from the hit musical on their Facebook page. Open House is for the benefit of the Artist Welfare Project, in support of displaced workers in the performing arts community. To see their lineup of activities and to donate, visit Philstage’s Facebook page or ticket2me.
There are also similar initiatives helmed by Sipat Lawin in the form of Creative Aid PH as well as ‘online kwentuhan.’ Their most recent event was on arts for healing in the time of COVID-19. There are also resources and aid for Philippines-based freelance artists, cultural workers, and creatives, led by JK Anicoche, Laura Cabochan, Jopie Sanchez, Komunidad, and Concerned Artists of the Philippines. For more information, visit their Facebook.
For those in the film industry, independent Filipino filmmakers have launched the Lockdown Cinema Club to help indie film workers affected by the pandemic. “The project,” they say, “introduces a collection of films from the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries to the public in a campaign to raise monetary donations for the most vulnerable members of the Filipino independent film community.” Their beneficiaries are freelance daily wage earners that make less than P2,000 per day. These include, but are not limited to, electricians, camera grips, carpenters, setmen, assistants, and more. As of April 2, they have been able to support 618 film workers.
You can, according to them, watch all you want and give what you can. For each ‘volume,’ the group will release a document that contains links to short and feature-length films, in the hopes that those interested will also send in donations their way. There are also Instagram Live events, including conversations with film professionals. Currently, there is a series on cinematography with some of the most renowned cinematographers in the business. To support them, visit their Facebook page.
Lead photo from Unsplash