“You can plan for rainy days, but as an artist each day is a rainy day.”
This has been the hardest week in the 22-year history of the Dig. From our days as the Weekly Dig, to our stylish mononymous Dig days, to DigBoston, we have never been under more pressure than we are right now. We are a publication that monitors the pulse of Greater Boston, and when the region’s heartbeat slows, we’re in bad shape. In other words, our lifeblood is covering and advertising events—concerts, comedy shows, dance parties, you name it. Which means we are completely fucked in the coronavirus economy.
More about the plight of the Dig later, we promise. We’re hanging in there, and for now we have our heads down covering all sorts of happenings (and cancellations), and are spending lots of time communicating with our fellow writers and creatives. Innumerable people have been impacted by COVID-19 and the response to it, and we hope to speak with representatives of any groups that big media fails to recognize, but artists, writers, and the like are our people, and we’ve already heard a lot from them about their steadily eroding footing in these dog days of abandonment.
“Three of my upcoming shows have been cancelled,” hip-hop artist Red Shaydez told the Dig. “I already work from home,” she said, and will “have trouble self-funding my art.” “I was looking forward to multiple checks for my performances coming up next month,” Shaydez added. “Now I’ve taken a financial hit.”
Isabella Pria is a student at Northeastern. In addition to the closing of most art spaces on campus and elsewhere, she has the added complication of being an international student: “Classes moved to online, fashion shows I am participating in either cancelled or moved online, [a] job I had secured after graduation—program assistant for a study abroad in Spain—will most likely be cancelled, and my work authorization days clock will be ticking—I am foreign—so I will need to find a job faster than anticipated.”
We heard from Zander Dolan, who reminds us that our friends who work behind the scenes are also in deep shit. “I am an AV freelancer,” Dolan said. “I have lost about 30 days of work and currently even full-time hourly people aren’t working. With hotels shutting down, I am desperately looking for a job.”
While Shamara Rhodes of Dorchester, aka DJ WhySham, echoed the laments of countless musicians and performing artists who have been posting endlessly about the crisis on the socials.
“As a local DJ, most of my services and income comes from community-based gigs,” Rhodes said. “Within an hour I seen all of my events I was booked for over the past four months quickly cancel within four minutes after the state declared an emergency. Within four minutes, my housing, food, and mental health all played ping-pong with each other determining what will be the next steps. You can plan for rainy days, but as an artist each day is a rainy day.”
“So far, just a lot of fear,” said JJ Gonson, who owns and operates Cuisine en Locale and ONCE Ballroom in Somerville. “I’m worried. I love ONCE and it can’t take much income loss.”