The past week I have really struggled, my mental health buckling under the reality that is the new normal. The industry I love, the industry I call family is being left to flounder, life-support removed, jobs lost, hope fading. Where once a Tory Chancellor accused disabled people like me of being skivers hiding behind closed blinds, another now declares me unviable, fit only to be re-trained for some soulless low paid zero-hours contract job as the arts and nightlife we once knew disappears from memory. The depressive in me dreads the coming winter, fearful of the endless headlines, job losses, businesses closing, livelihoods destroyed. The autistic in me dreads the drastic change, the loss of my coping strategies and my beloved disco family that has kept me sane and smiling and able to cope with my wonky wiring.
But most importantly the friend and colleague in me fears for the mental health of those I have worked alongside over the past 30 years. DJs, performers, promoters, owners, musicians, artists whose lifetime of creativity has been dismissed as valueless. Every moment of joy caused by a reunion with some of those wonderful souls I’m so blessed to have worked with since COVID began has been accompanied by fearful talk as we contemplate a dark future, a future in the hands of a government blind to the reality of our industry’s tsunami of forthcoming job losses.
Working in the creative industries has been the biggest blessing of my life. I know how lucky I have been. But to be tossed aside like a ticket stub from our now-bankrupt live events sector leaves me, well, despairing. I would love to say there’s a fight to be had, a petition to sign or that Bond can save us, but this 80s kid remembers the miners and Thatcher and the worth a sector of society deemed unviable has when the Tories are in charge.
I would love to say the song in my head is an anthem of defiance and hope but all I can keep singing is Ghost Town. A Ghost Town once special because of the joy my friends in the creative industries brought but now lost thanks to a government decision to wave farewell to the arts as we know it. Venues gone bust, property redeveloped and sold on to the highest bidder, decibel levels becoming law, curfews the senseless norm, livelihoods and, sadly more often as each day passes, too many lives lost.
Today no hashtag feels strong enough to express my anger or fears, no hashtag able to save what I love. I hope against hope I’m wrong, that together we save the DJ, the artist, the musician, the performer, the actor that so often saved us. Because without them we are lost, lost without music, lost without art, lost in the dark. Somehow we must find a way of keeping the lights on, of saving the very thing that makes so many of us. Somehow we must find a way to save that which saves us. COVID is our new normal, nothing will be the same again and measures must be taken to live safely alongside the virus but we must find ways to support the sector that brings meaning to so many. Lives won’t ever be the same without it. Lives depend on it.
PS Having said no hashtag feels strong enough here’s just a few we are gathering behind. So many hearts so invested in so many hashtags. #CancelTheCurfew #WEAREVIABLE #WeMakeEvents #Letusdance #RedAlert #LetTheMusicPlay #Savenightlife