Artists suffer loss as Covid-19 resurgence prompts show cancellations

By Mai Nhat   May 14, 2021 | 03:41 am PT
The entertainment sector has been hit by the latest Covid-19 wave as canceled gigs and cinema closures deprive artists of an income.

Singers Dan Truong and Quang Ha had dozens of concerts canceled. Truong shared he would have had a packed schedule in May doing live performances in tea rooms across Hanoi and northern Bac Giang Province, singing at different events and judging a beauty contest in southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province.

With everything scrapped last minute due to the new wave of Covid-19, he still had to pay show organizers all deposit fees.

Quang Ha shared in the past few days, he and manager Quang Cuong were so bored that they just stayed home after losing the chance to perform 21 shows.

"During the show season, I received a lot of invitations to perform in different localities across the country, averaging one or two events per day. Now it's all gone," he lamented.

The singer estimates that if everything remains closed until the end of June, the amount of income lost to him would double. During the Lunar New Year period, when the third Covid-19 wave broke out in the country, Quang Ha lost out on nearly 40 gigs.

A movie theater in HCMC is disinfected for coronavirus prevention in May 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

A movie theater in HCMC is disinfected for coronavirus prevention in May 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

Singer My Tam postponed her "Tri Am" (Gratefulness) concert at Hanoi's My Dinh National Stadium that can hold up to tens of thousands of spectators, after tickets were sold out and stage assembly nearly complete. A music festival in Ha Long Bay of Quang Ninh Province, by director Hoang Nhat Nam was postponed indefinitely. The construction team had to dive into the sea to remove the stage props.

Ha Show, a music event with an investment of VND11 billion (nearly $479,000) of singer Quang Ha, scheduled to take place on May 8 in Hanoi, has also been postponed, with staging about 90 percent done. He said he lost billions of dong to uncompensated airfares and prepaid hotel bookings for more than 200 guests.

"Luckily, many viewers sympathized with the situation and did not ask for ticket refunds. They are waiting for the rescheduling announcement," he said.

Many theater actors have also lost out to stage closures. With Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Hanoi suspending entertainment on May 3 amid new coronavirus outbreaks and many localities closing cinemas, theaters and concerts, the showbiz sector in the country again entered a "frozen" state.

My Uyen, stage director of 5B Theater in Saigon's District 3, spent a week refunding the ticket money, with most of her performers now out of work.

My Uyen invested her own money in three plays after Tet, at an average of more than VND100 million (around $4,350) each. The latest play, "Roi Mac Gi Phai Cuoi" (Then Why Are You Laughing), was performed four times before it was postponed, with Uyen failing to break even.

Although the theater was closed at the beginning of the month, she still has to pay salaries to ticketing staff, backstage workers and others. She is currently renting an apartment since she had pledged her own house as bank collateral.

"In the past two years, I have spent billions of dong investing in plays but have yet to make a profit," she said.

Meanwhile, theater actress Hong Van described her current role as that of a "boxer who gets knocked down several times a year." Acting in the play "Nguoi Vo Ma" (Ghost Wife) in early May, she was happy to see the theater filled to over-capacity. But the next day, both venues were closed down.

After four Covid-19 waves, Van and many show organizers grew frustrated since the stage was only moderately active, with fewer and fewer audiences interested in attending theatrical performances.

"Audiences find online and television entertainment more convenient and safer during the pandemic. After each outbreak, there are fewer people coming to see theater shows," she said.

Artists suffered heavy losses after investing billions of dong (VND1 billion = $43,385) in shows that eventually got postponed.

My Tam performs in Saigon, April 25, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.

My Tam performs in Saigon, April 25, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.

Many artists have switched to selling goods online during the epidemic season. After the shooting for two TV series got scrapped in May, singer Kha Ly and her husband, actor Thanh Duy, now earn extra income by focusing on her functional food shop. She is currently live-streaming several times a day on her personal social media page with more than 460 thousand followers.

"My wife and I have saved up for bad situations like this. So we still manage to hold out," the actor stated.

Singer Dam Vinh Hung has put all his energy into a side business, selling canned food online for more than a year now. Initially, when he first started live-streaming to introduce his product, he was embarrassed after many people commented: "A famous singer like Dam Vinh Hung also sells products online.."

"Gradually, I calmed myself down and realized there was nothing to be ashamed of. Now, I like to be called 'the king of closing deals' by friends and colleagues," Hung said.

As of Friday afternoon, Vietnam's new Covid-19 wave has seen 729 local cases recorded in 26 cities and provinces since April 27.

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