Malta may be on the verge of an arts and culture boom with the reopening of the sector next month, says performing actor Jeremy Grech.
Appearing on today’s episode of Lovin Daily, Grech drew parallels between the influenza pandemic of 1918 and the Covid-19 pandemic of today, and how the former preceded a decade of widespread prosperity.
“I think we’re heading towards that,” he said. “People are tired of staying at home. They want to go out and have fun and hopefully, they do so in a responsible way.”
Grech became a prominent voice in the arts community after his Facebook post on the government’s lack of guidance for the reopening of the arts sector went semi-viral.
It later turned into a petition with over 1,000 signatures, followed by a meeting with Culture Minister Jose Herrera and even a performing arts video featuring Grech himself delivering an impassioned poem.
“Taking art seriously has always been an issue, even at school, it’s considered an extracurricular activity. When you tell someone you’re an artist they pity you,” Grech said.
While Grech is optimistic about the long-term future of the local arts scene, it may be a while until any sense of normality is achieved.
“I think it will take some time until it goes back to how it was in 2019. There are certain shows that are ready to go but with bars also opening, I think most of the money will go into drinking,” he said.
“I don’t know how many people we are going to get when it comes to an audience,” he continued.
Theatres will open their doors in less than a month’s time under a strict set of protocols, including a limited seating capacity to prevent any further spread of Covid-19.
“The Manoel Theatre has a capacity of 600 but to fill it nowadays you can get 200, but it doesn’t feel like a full house. We tried to adapt and go online but people don’t react the same way,” Grech continued.
For the local arts scene, the pandemic has forced artists to adapt in a number of ways – but the work hasn’t stopped, with Grech predicting a proliferation of shows in the future.
“Shows in early 2021 were postponed and shows in October were postponed to 2022. There are certain shows that are ready to go. As an artist, I took this two year gap to go back to school but apart from that it has mostly been writing and developing shows,” he ended.
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