‘Why is live music the only industry not allowed to reopen?’
By – Frankie D’Cruz
KUALA LUMPUR: Syed Yusof Syed Nasir, a torchbearer of Malaysian hospitality, said it is disheartening that musicians and live performance venues affected by the pandemic have been left out in the cold even as all other economic activities have reopened.
“It breaks my heart to see them hanging on for dear life while other crowd sectors have been allowed to open or partially operate,” he said. Syed Yusof wondered why the safety measures imposed on other gathering/crowd sectors could not be similarly applied to live performance venues so that they could reopen.
“The industry is in a coma and it needs fixing,” said Syed Yusof, whose footprint in hotels, resorts and in entertainment has made him a leading light in the hospitality industry.
He asked: “Why has the industry been left crumbling? When will they get a new lease of life?”
Syed Yusof’s impassioned plea for the return of live entertainment comes as the country moves into another phase of Covid-19 restrictions today with every sector, except live entertainment, allowed to reopen.
“It’s unending grief for them, with most who are self-employed and neck-deep in water are left with no earning power and institutional support,” said Syed Yusof. He said several musicians told him they felt they were being unfairly targeted to shoulder the burden of the pandemic more than anyone else and that they were neglected in terms of support.
He was saddened by the news that some talents had decided they were not going to be musicians anymore.
Syed Yusof hoped the government would recognise the devastating impact of Covid-19 restrictions on the nightlife business, which revolves around live entertainment.
“Venue owners and musicians have been among the hardest hit by social distancing measures, but have been left behind in economic recovery plans,” he said.
Syed Yusof said the industry was important in terms of its huge contribution to the economy, including employment.
The financial ramifications had been severe with venue-based activities and the related supply chains badly affected, he added.
“They see other sectors moving ahead while they continue to be sidelined and suffer financially,” he said, adding that several anchors of nightlife in the country had crashed in recent months.
Syed Yusof, a partner of the Hard Rock Café in Kuala Lumpur and Melaka, and owner of Jojo Entertainment, said it was imperative that Putrajaya addressed the insecurities and concerns of the stakeholders in live entertainment with clear, conditional timelines.
“Our distressed creative assets, including deejays and support workers in the entertainment sector, desperately need jobs,” said Syed Yusof who also partly owns the chic Nobu restaurant.
He proposed that live entertainment be reopened under a pilot programme, with strict Covid-19 safety rules to especially maintain social distancing in a club environment. The participants could be monitored over a period of between three and six months to assess the viability of the scheme.
Local authorities could invite venue owners to pioneer the project, he said.
“The success of the pilot project does not mean nightlife will be back in full swing because the robust safety guidance is a work in progress.
“The nightlife industry will not return to its old form for a considerable period, maybe never, but without a plan, businesses and jobs will be crushed – and without work, identities can start to feel very brittle,” he said.
“Support for artistes is key to returning to a vibrant cultural life post-Covid,” he added.
Source : https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2021/03/05/why-is-live-music-the-only-industry-not-allowed-to-reopen/