Coronavirus: How the West Country's performing arts have been impacted by the outbreak

  • Watch the full report by our reporter Max Walsh

Those within the performing arts across the region, much like everything else, have to adapt to the impact the Covid-19 outbreak has had.

Some actors, musicians and artists have been hit particularly hard by the crisis as venues have shut and audiences have been told to stay away.

While others have found ways to survive.

  • Theatre

The performance area at Sterts Theatre will remain empty due to the pandemic. Credit: ITV News West Country

At Sterts in Liskeard the summer season would have been filled with Shakespearian plays and West End musicals.

But due to the pandemic the performance space remains empty.

Peter Woodward, Centre Director for Sterts Theatre, said "Normally there would be people rehearsing, there would be people singing, there would be people dancing, the whole place would be alive."

He added: "We've been very fortunate with Cornwall Council, they've been brilliant, they've given us our annual grant up front so we've got some working cash.

"And we've got an application in to the Arts Council emergency fund which we're expecting to hear about any time now. Otherwise we just have to go into shut down."

And I was up here last Saturday and it was silent. It was really depressing. We've obviously had to furlough the full time staff except for myself, all our freelance people have been laid off unfortunately and told there's no work for them.

Peter Woodward, Centre Director for Sterts Theatre

There are similar stories to that of Sterts across the region. But Artistic Director Tom Morris from Bristol Old Vic, believes there is a way to survive.

We're desperately trying to work out how we can survive.

Tom Morris, Artistic Director, Bristol Old Vic

The Bristol Old Vic is one of a number of cultural institutions in the city coming together to provide free online theatre productions and concerts.

The Bristol Arts Channel will stream a number of the theatre's shows on Youtube in the coming weeks, along with performances from Colston Hall, St Paul's Carnival and many more.

  • Music & Festivals

Self-employed musicians such as Jill, who gigs regularly around Plymouth, have seen all their work dry up due to the pandemic.

She says she fears for the future of the local live music scene.

A renovation project at the Hall for Truro has had to be put on hold due to Covid-19. Credit: ITV News West Country

Cultural spaces around the region are feeling the effects of the virus.

The Hall for Cornwall in Truro has seen a £21million renovation project put on hold.

While Plymouth's new £40million museum and art gallery, The Box, is unlikely to welcome its first visitors until later this year.

The Box in Plymouth is now expected to open later this year. Credit: ITV News West Country

Former Bristol Lord Mayor Cleo Lake says engaging with everyone in the city has never been so important.

She's welcomed news that artists who would have performed at the St Paul's carnival are working to create an online show.

She went onto say "We are able to deliver so many free cultural events that are so accessible to everyone so no matter what your background or economic circumstance you can come and enjoy Bristol Harbourfest or St Paul's carnival."

All these different things that make citizens feel part of something. I am confident they will return because they are such an important part of the city.

Cleo Lake, Former Bristol Lord Mayo
St Paul's Carnival may not be going ahead this year, but artists will perform online.
  • Art

Peter Lord, Founder of Aardman Animations, gives an online art lesson. Credit: Aardman Animations

For families struggling with home-schooling during this period, Aardman Animations has provided a range of online art lessons. They have had to furlough around a third of their staff, but are still investing more resources to help families get creative.

Daniel Efergan, Creative Director at Aardman Animations, said, "One of the worst aspects of what's happening is the sense of isolation. And the arts is a way to bring people together. I think we all need to get lost in other people's worlds and universes, as well as laugh and cry together. That's what the arts is so powerful for."

The Bristol Arts Channel is due to start in the coming weeks providing free performances and concerts online.

It proves that despite this crisis and the financial worries ahead for so many Bristol institutions, the show, for now, goes on.