On Wednesday 7th October at 7.30pm BST, those in the Performing Arts sector are aiming to come together in a social media protest to highlight the urgency for government help.
Organised by Willy Mukendi, who recently had a concert version of her musical Catfish play to a sold out crowd at the Turbine on the Jetty, the goal is to manipulate algorithims by tweeting the hashtags #MoreThanViable and #NotLowSkilled at the exact same time. This is then hoped to encourage as much exposure for the sorely neglected industry as possible.
Speaking of the campaign, Mukendi said "Society says we’re at that stage now, where there has been such a disrespect to our industry, that we need to demand our voices to be heard. There has been so much focus on mass survival, that the government have forgotten to allow us to live. The issues faced with being able to open theatres safely are valid, but we need financial security to allow us to survive. We need help"
To take part, it is really simple. At 7.30pm on the 7th, if you are a performer, post a picture or a snippet of you performing. If you work in the performing arts sector, post photos of what you do. And if you are, like so many of us, a fan of the industry - post photos of your favourite stage door experiences. Just make sure whatever you do post to include the two hashtags #MoreThanViable and #NowLowSkilled.
Many professionals, graduates and students will be taking part in this. West End stars supporting the campaign include Luke Bayer, Cleve September, Blake Patrick Anderson and Maiya Quansah-Breed.
We all know how badly the Performing Arts sector has been treated since the pandemic forced venues to close nearly seven months ago. From false promises, sly digs from the government and a general lack of understanding of how important the Arts are, not just to those who rely on it for their career, but for the millions of people who need the Arts not just for their enjoyment but for their mental health. Theatre has been referred to as a hobby. It is so much more than that, and if you are reading this, I don't need to explain to you why.
Just today, Chancellor Rishi Sunak encouraged creatives to find other opportunities and
train in new skills. Though he has since claimed this was taken out of context, it is a clear example of the lack of understanding he possesses of the industry. Unfortunately this is the latest in a long line of unhelpful comments that have undermined the entire industry, not to mention those who work in it and those who love it.
This protest aims to wake up wider audiences and remind them that the Arts is worth fighting for.
Whether you are a performer, creative, in the industry or a fan, play your part and take part in this protest. Let's get #MoreThanViable and #NotLowSkilled trending and let a wider audience hear the people sing.