This week, more on how COVID-19 has affected the arts in general and musicians in particular; the streaming wars; the Metropolitan Opera furlough; and the death of James Levine. (Image: from Toronto Symphony/Against the Grain Theatre's Messiah/Complex)
Arts in crisis
In terms of job losses and GDP, the arts have suffered more than any industry other than airlines, the Globe and Mail reports. The losses have largely been felt by individual artists; venue closings threaten to prolong the pain.
The federal government recently announced $181.5 million in initiatives designed to support struggling performing artists, including $50.5 million to fund digital innovation initiatives, the Globe and Mail reports.
Globe and Mail journalist Marsha Lederman considers eight opportunities for meaningful change in the arts industry, post-pandemic.
Even before the pandemic, the dwindling opportunities and the economics of streaming services have threatened to make many musicians’ careers unsupportable, CBC News reports. The pandemic has perhaps only accelerated the end of the “middle-class musician”.
Laughably small income from streaming services is nothing new. Pitchfork recently considered how union and activist pressure might make the model more sustainable for musicians. The New York Times also covered the issue in an On Tech newsletter: Streaming saved music. Artists hate it.
Metropolitan Opera: furloughs and Levine
Musicians, chorus members, stagehands, and set builders of the Metropolitan Opera have all been furloughed or locked out since last April. And all are struggling, the New York Times reports.
The Times also reported that Metropolitan Opera music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin urged the board and management to compensate artists appropriately. Musicians and chorus members recently began receiving partial compensation, in exchange for a return to the bargaining table.
James Levine, the Metropolitan Opera’s longtime music director, has died at age 77, the New York Times reported. His career also included seven seasons as music director of the Boston Symphony. In his later years, Levine’s career was interrupted by health problems and allegations of serious sexual improprieties.
Times critic Anthony Tommasini wrote an appraisal of Levine’s impact on the Met, concluding: “One way for the Met to honor the best elements of Levine’s hopelessly tarnished legacy would be to save the magnificent orchestra he built.”
And on a lighter note, the Globe and Mail previewed five springtime concerts and operas to watch, including the return of the Toronto Symphony and Against the Grain Theatre's Messiah/Complex.