COVID-19 is hitting every part of the economy, but when it comes to the theatre and arts industry, actors and performers are paying a steep price financially and creatively.

Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, actor and performer Jenny May Morgan, 37, was juggling her life as an actor with her show ‘eVULVAlution’, teaching the innate storyteller course at The Lowry and planning upcoming festivals as well as being a tour guide at the BBC.

Suddenly, all of Jenny’s work was cancelled.

She said: “I’m still adjusting to it all as it has all changed so much, so quickly, so trying not to put too much pressure to create, as frankly it’s all quite frightening and strange at the moment.”

The industry has been forced to pause and the pandemic has cut off the revenue streams that people use to pay their bills.

The UK government’s measures to give financial aid to the self-employed will help the sector but there is still concern since people have to wait until June.

Jenny adds: “Waiting until June isn’t ideal… and the self-employed deal does seem a bit flawed, I have dual incomes so it does make it more complicated, but we will have to see how it pans out.”

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There is also pressure on artists to migrate online.

Actors, musicians, writers and other creatives are using Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other platforms to build creative communities.

Jenny said: “There is a definite push for artists to get their work online and try and create and share.

“There is the possibility of adapting my workshops for online, I do think storytelling and comedy will be an invaluable tool for escapism and reflection over the coming months, but I’m having a good think about the best way of doing that, and trying to learn from others before leaping in.”

The storyteller course at The Lowry was meant to be a 6-week course created for anyone who wanted to develop their performance skills.

No previous experience was necessary and it was also aimed for people who wanted to develop skills for presentations, speeches or to simply entertain your friends.

Jenny said: “There are some really great tools you can get from storytelling, my favourite thing in my show is the storytelling element of it, and I really love doing performance storytelling.

“It’s also for people to have a nice bit of fun and a little bit of escapism, after doing those type of exercises I feel cleansed.”

With venues, theatres and cinemas all shut, festivals and events have followed.

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The Edinburgh Fringe and four other major cultural festivals in the city have been cancelled this year due to concerns around the Covid-19 pandemic.

All five festivals will be exploring new ways to link performers with audiences so that they can maintain some kind of presence in Edinburgh in 2020, even if it’s a virtual one.

Jenny said: “Who knows what the future holds in terms of theatres and festivals, I certainly think it will be a long and difficult road to recovery and finding whole new ways of working.”

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