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Musicians and actors contemplate months with no work

29 March 2020


The Noel Coward Theatre in the West End of London, which is closed until further notice

The Noel Coward Theatre in the West End of London, which is closed until further notice

CHRISTIAN musicians and actors have been left unable to tour or perform in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, as Government restrictions on mass gatherings have forced all concert venues, cinemas, and theatres to close.

One example is the rap musician Guvna B. His new album, Everywhere and Nowhere, will be released on 3 April, but instead of everywhere, he will be going nowhere, as all the concerts promoting the album have been pushed back to November. He said last week that, despite the challenges, his beliefs were sustaining him.

“I’m hanging on to biblical truths and thinking back to other difficult situations where I could not see a way out,” he said. “It helps me to stay hopeful. Knowing God has got my back is an opportunity for hope, and I find comfort in knowing God is in control.”

The singer acknowledged, however, that he and members of his touring crew may endure financial hardship: “It’s difficult for me and everyone I work with, as pretty much everything has been cancelled or postponed. Most of us are self-employed and freelancers, and a lot of our income comes from live music.

“You fall back on any savings you might have, as well as family and friends — but there are not many sustainable options long-term.

Other Christian musicians who are facing career setbacks include Stormzy, Tori Kelly, and Lacrae, who have all cancelled tour dates.

The closure of theatres and cinemas and the postponement of many TV productions has also left actors without work. Owen Findlay, a London-based actor and churchgoer, said last week: “I had an audition for a summer-long project that has been postponed, and whether it will go ahead is very much up in the air. However, I am pleased to have the community of the church around me and my congregation is really supportive.”

He said that the Government’s promise of more financial help for those who are self-employed, announced on Thursday of last week, would not be very helpful. “The fact that it will take until June for this money to come in is ridiculous — many people will be broke by then.”

Matt Gibbs, an actor and writer, said: “Being a person of faith has enabled me to remain sanguine. There is precious little within my control here, but this is a reality that freelancers live with. I have some fear, but I try to give that to God. I’m prayerfully optimistic.”

The Lead Theatre Chaplain at Theatre Chaplaincy UK, the Revd Lindsay Meader, said that her organisation was nurturing people in the theatre community.

“Providing a space for theatre people, where they can come and be open about their faith, can be immensely valuable,” she said. “There are testing times ahead, but I’ve been touched with the resilience and humour among a lot of the people I work with. They keep each other’s spirits up, even though a lot of actors are now working in supermarkets.”

Theatre Chaplaincy UK takes prayer requests, and has started an 11 p.m. service on Thursdays during Lent that is livestreamed through Facebook, and a “Matinee Meditation and Prayer” at 2.30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Other organisations, such as West End Has Faith, which used to organise prayer meetings in coffee shops, have now moved online.

The Revd Simon Grigg, Rector at St Paul’s, Covent Garden, known as the Actors’ Church, described the shut-down of London’s West End as “a bleak day.

“Originally, the plan had been for the church to act as a drop-in point and a source of support, coffee, and chat, but that plan has been overtaken by events. However, I remain available by phone or email for people who need support. It is a tough time.”

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