Artists United

19 October 2020

Oala Moi

Media Release – 18th October 2020

Image may contain: 4 people, people sitting and shoes
Musicians meeting in Theaterette, National Museum & Art Gallery, Port Moresby

A MUSICIAN IN N.C.D. LOSES AN AVERAGE OF K1,500 PER WEEK UNDER COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS A group of seven Port Moresby-based musicians have on average lost a combined income estimated at K232,000 (or K33,000 per month per musician or K1,500 per musician per week) over the past six months since April. They gathered today at the National Museum & Art Gallery at Waigani, National Capital District and shared personal stories of the effect of COVID-19 measures on their families. One musician said: “Because there are no gigs, I have no income. In my family, not everyone works. The pressure is on me as a musician to earn money. I am part of a two-piece band at a local hotel and we have been performing weekly for the past ten years. That gig stopped in March this year.” Another musician said: “I am a guitarist and I play as part of a band at a club. Because of the lockdown, my gig dried up. I come from a single-parent family and my income helps my parent pay the bills. Now I do not help with the bills and I am not comfortable with that. I completed a short-course and graduated but companies are cutting down on staff and there is no demand in the job market for people like me. So, I have no gigs and no secular job.” Yet another musician said: “I sometimes help out with other bands as a vocalist or guitarist. I have my own band too. The lockdown stopped me from playing gigs. At the same time, I live in a rental accommodation and I share the rent. I now do not contribute to the rent and it has affected my relationship with my spouse, who has to carry the rental payment monthly. My rent is eight months in arrears.” Another musician whose income helps pay for school fees said: “We depend on gatherings to make money. Venues we play at include night clubs and open-air concerts. I help my partner pay the bills by paying the kids school fees. I had a weekly income and the gigs kept me going. Now I am unable to do that.” Another musician whose income and mentorship helps to keep teenagers out of trouble said: “I have six kids plus other orphaned children under my care. My partner and I house and feed them and my music income from live performance, hire out of equipment helps me pay for school fees and school lunches and uniforms. My main income is from club gigs. The lockdown has affected my income.” Another musician who was reformed after taking up music said: “I became a street kid after losing one parent. I had nowhere to go. My family told me that there was no future in music. But I took up a music career, and I make my money from doing session work, touring, and playing live. When my parent died, music helped me survive and put food on the table and helped my family during the ‘loose week’. The lockdown has affected me.” Another musician who holds down a day job but is the only bread-winner for his family said: “In my street here in Port Moresby, if you drop out of school; you are either a rascal through peer pressure, or buai-seller. I completed high school and did not do anything for four years except music. I did not want to become a rascal. I’m married with a child. Because of COVID-19, my partner became unemployed. I now have to provide for my partner and child in addition to my extended family. I am now spending eighty-percent of my income every fortnight taking care of my immediate and extended families. I have a regular job. But if I became unemployed tomorrow, I would become a freelance musician. I also operate a buai market to keep us going.” The group of freelance musicians have called upon the Pandemic Controller to relax the COVID-19 measures or provide compensation, if the situation does not improve. In a petition the group intends to present to Prime Minister Marape, and Pandemic Controller David Manning; they agree that: “Many of us are already living in a precarious financial situation. Absorbing a loss of income in Papua New Guinea since 23rd March 2020 is unsustainable.” “At the start of the year, Prime Minister Marape announced incentives to help MSMEs and SOEs affected by COVID-19. We request similar incentives and pandemic measures that will support us during these difficult times.” Meanwhile, an online petition on collected over 100 supporters. “Based on our estimates of a musician losing K1,500 per week, 100 musicians stand to lose a combined total of K150,000 per week.” Approved for Release by: Steve Kairi | Lincoln Pera | Edwin Oa | Emmanuel Muganaua | Dwayne TJ Sogoromo | Charles Lawson Komboi | Max Ox Meauri

Published by Ples Singsing

Ples Singsing is envisioned to be a new platform for Papua Niuginian expressions of creativity, ingenuity and originality in art and culture. We deliberately highlight these two very broad themes as they can encompass the diverse subjects, from technology, medicine and architecture to linguistics, music, fishing, gardening et cetera. Papua Niuginian ways of thinking, living, believing, communicating, dying and so on can cover the gamut of academic, journalistic or opinionated writing and we believe that unless we give ourselves a platform to talk about and discuss these things in an open, free and non-exclusively academic space that they may remain the fodder for academics, journalists and other types of writers alone. New social media platforms have given every individual a personal space to share their feelings and ideas openly, sometimes without immediate censure. The Ples Singsing writer’s blog would like to provide another more structured platform for Papua Niuginian expressions in written, visual and audio formats while also providing some regulation of the type and content of materials to be shared publicly.

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