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Coronavirus takes toll on performing arts

Monday March 23 2020
AKINYI

Racheal Stephanie Akinyi a creative artist performs at in Nakuru on March 10, 2020. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By FRANCIS MUREITHI

Creative artists in Nakuru and beyond are counting losses running into hundreds of thousands of shillings due to cancellation of their concerts as coronavirus fears grips the country. Some of the artistes told the Nation they were staring at collapse of their industry.

BLEAK FUTURE

Reggae artist Juliet Akinyi Onyach, who goes by the stage name WeN_Music said she was staring at a bleak future.

“Of all the shows that have been cancelled, one that is close to my heart is Lioness on the rise, which had been scheduled to take place on April 12, at the Alchemist,” said Ms Onyach.

She added: “We had almost sold out [tickets] and so much work and planning had been invested since last year and the cancellation is a big blow to me.”

However, she said she remains optimistic and will use this time to create and explore her creativity as she hopes for better times ahead.

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HUGE LOSSES

Racheal Stephanie Akinyi, who goes by the stage name Spontaneous the Poet, said the sector is reeling in huge losses due to the Covid-19.

“Lack of public gatherings means zero business which leads to a state of hopelessness to hundreds of artists,” said Spontaneous the Poet. She called on the government to consider making protective gear easily accessible to the vulnerable.  

Mr Willison Oeba who is an event organiser said that he had a planned to attend a university drama festival in Meru County from March 16-25.

“I was also planning to tour Eldoret, Nairobi and a live event in Nakuru but all these events have been put on hold due to the current stalemate,” said Oeba.

He added: “The cancellation means I will foot a heavy financial burden and other recurrent expenditures such as production fees which has caused unprecedented strain on my finances.”

Mr Oeba called on his fellow artists to use this time to work together with the authorities and health personnel to fight the pandemic.

PANIC

“Let us cease panic buying including stocking sanitisers because if some of the citizens are not safe, we are all likely to be affected. Let us stick together. We need each other to be alive for the future engagement,” said Mr Oeba.

Spoken word artist and event organiser Gregory Ochieng’ whose stage name is Mbunge Aliyeparara, said he was forced to cancel his first ever Orchestra show.

Performing artist Muthama Kioko (Otivo Stingothao) said he had big plans for the Got Games talent competition search at University of Nairobi on March 27 which has since been cancelled.

Environmental and art enthusiast Derrick Odidi (Ojay Odidi) said the planned UBUNTU creative arts event at Lake Nakuru National Park during Easter holidays from April 9-13 has been cancelled.

BIG BLOW

Art therapist Linda Wambura (Tee Gee) who deals with mental health, said coronavirus has disrupted his working scheduled.  He works with teenagers in schools.  

“Coronavirus is a big blow to our jobs as creative entrepreneurs as we have been forced to postpone many events,” said Tee Gee.

Spoken word artist Shikanga Shiboko (Shikkiey) said financial loss aside, she will use this period to improve her artistic skills.

“As I keep my self-safe this is the right moment to rejuvenate myself and improve my spoken word skills,” said Shikkiey.

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