P.E.I. performers dealing with fallout of latest restrictions
'It's no fun to lose some guaranteed money right before the holidays'
Pandemic restrictions might be lifting early for P.E.I., but the recent measures have left Island artists once again facing cancelled or postponed performances.
The province recently imposed "circuit breaker" restrictions, ending all gatherings of any kind, with the exception of weddings, funerals and religious gatherings, which are allowed a maximum of 10 people. Up until now, artists have enjoyed performing in person for months, even if it meant smaller crowds than usual.
On Tuesday, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison announced the restrictions could end Friday at 8 a.m. instead of the original date of Dec. 21. But several concerts and shows have been cancelled or postponed until after Christmas because of the circuit breaker measures, including fiddler Richard Wood's, whose sold-out show at the College of Piping is now delayed until the end of January.
"You get so excited, pumping yourself up to do a show and then to have ... the plug pulled on it and the air out of your balloon at the last minute, you know, it's just really tricky. It's really heartbreaking," Wood said.
"The music, I mean, it's always going to be there and it will get back to where we need to be but it's going to take time."
Wood said like other musicians, he'll explore online performances, but that "it just doesn't have the same impact on yourself and ... the audience."
Restrictions a matter of time
"I thought the time has finally come," said musician Nick Doneff of the new restrictions. "I felt like we were kind of getting away with one with how lucky we were for the whole summer."
Doneff had a sold out show at Trailside Music Hall the day before restrictions went into place and decided to cancel it. His other bookings during the two-week lockdown followed.
Doneff said the new restrictions are important in keeping everyone safe, but that the timing is tough.
"It's no fun to lose some guaranteed money right before the holidays but there's not a whole lot you can do. We'll reschedule and hopefully make it back when the time is right," he said.
Oshun Dance Studio's Reequal Smith had a dance showcase called Calypso Secrets at The Guild in Charlottetown which she said had been in the works since the summer. While one performance was able to go ahead a few weeks ago, the second scheduled for last Saturday was cancelled.
"I was very devastated," said Smith. "I really expected the show, you know, in terms of just being the artist, you want to be able to, you know, perform and also make money at the same time."
While it's possible the latest round of restrictions will ease sooner than expected, Smith said she's hopeful there won't be another lockdown any time soon.
"I try not to think about it too much. I think as artists and people in general, we keep thinking about negative things or things that, you know, are not going to happen. It tends to play with our mind mentally," she said.
"I try to stay focused. I try to keep hope and try to keep up, come up with ideas and being as creative as possible during this time."