2020 was a year of change and challenge, and we all had to adapt and find new ways of working online. Whilst live music and theatre is paused at the moment, we believe that the Performing Arts industry is more important than ever. I spoke to Vic Gimby, Director, Writer and Performing Arts lecturer at Leeds Conservatoire – here’s what she had to say.
Why is the Theatre important at the moment?
During this pandemic, people have turned to the arts to escape from how overwhelming everything has felt. Entertainment such as Netflix, Broadway HD, BBC, TikTok and every other content platform has been embraced, and has been a soothing comfort to many.
The world is built on stories, and they become so woven into our lives. Theatre is very special because it allows us to experience these stories live, and it’s an experience that can’t be replaced. The arts and culture industry now contributes £10.8 billion a year to the UK economy, which is more than the entire agriculture industry, and it grows a bit each year. We have some great arts contributors from the UK – from actors, artists and playwrights, and the arts industry is only destined to grow.
How is the Performing Arts industry changing?
The pandemic has really changed the way that the Performing Arts industry works, and whilst many venues have had to temporarily close, lots of them have found new, creative ways to reach people. Through streaming shows online, or allowing audiences to watch theatre socially distanced, the industry has shown how quick we can be to adapt and keep creating.
Aside from the COVID pandemic, we have been changed by the Black Lives Matter movement, which highlighted our need to evolve and listen to stories that aren’t normally given a voice. This extends to gender identity, disability, and more. It is so important to give people a platform to be creative, and tell stories about real people, and real experiences.
What skills does a performer need in order to work in the Performing Arts industry?
Now, more than ever, it is important to ‘have more strings to your bow’ – to be versatile and open minded. I have worked as a playwright, director, actor, choreographer, singer and more! It is this range of skills that has allowed me to work in the Performing Arts industry, and get to where I am now. Performing Arts are a collaborative discipline, so being able to take on many roles and adapt will make it much easier to work as a professional in the industry. If you have an open mind and work hard, there’s no limit to what you can achieve!