Changing the mental health outcomes of the Australian entertainment industry
Q&A with Entertainment Assist Program Manager Rae Bonney.
When most people consider the types of small businesses which operate in the entertainment industry, they usually think of production houses, theatres, venues or even large scale event management agencies.
For many sole trader/operators in entertainment, they go by the title of actor, performer, singer, artist, videographer, script writer, dancer and choreographer among others.
Managing, booking and securing their gigs, performances and shows is a critical part of their business and is vital to securing regular income over the short and longer term.
This is the case for perennial performer, singer, dancer and all-round talented individual, Bobby Fox.
The Irish-born, Australian actor has treaded the planks of many stages with lead roles in the Australian production of much-loved musicals such as Jersey Boys, Blood Brothers, Mamma Mia!, Leader of the Pack, We Will Rock You, Dusty – The Original Pop Diva, Spamalot, Guys and Dolls, Ladies in Black, and Sweet Charity, to name a few.
According to Mr Fox, when your body is your instrument, one of the most important parts of that instrument is the mind.
The Ahead for Business team had a chat to Mr Fox to learn more about what he does to look after his mental health and wellbeing and how many individuals in the entertainment industry need to adapt and navigate through challenging times.
Q: Thanks for having a chat to us. How has COVID-19 impacted the entertainment industry?
A: The entertainment industry has been completely flattened by the pandemic and while it’s difficult, there is no doubt that at the heart of a health crisis, the decisions that were made were the right ones.
When you are operating within and rely upon the entertainment industry, if there is one thing we are used to, it is the ups and downs of the market.
It is the entertainment industry who are nearly always the first ones to feel it when the country is undergoing upheaval.
But, it is not just the actors, the performers and singers who face impacts, it’s all the support staff, it’s the stage hands, the ushers in theatre, the cast and crew, stage management, the cleaners, the stage doors, the ticketing office workers and the set builders who all feel the full impact of societal purchase anxiety.
Q: What do you do to look after yourself when faced with adversity?
A: For me, physical exercise is an important part of my life, it is about looking after my body and mind as critical instruments for my craft. I try to stick to a regular, daily routine and that is part of my strategy to be ready.
One of the most passive things you can do is to wait for opportunity, so during any adversity or challenging time, take it as an opportunity to get ready and be nimble.
During COVID-19, I’ve been supporting my friends by doing group home cooking, where we take turns in dropping off home cooked meals at each other’s places. It’s all about connection, even at a distance and letting others know you care and that has been very comforting for me.
Q: What is next for the entertainment industry post COVID-19?
A: It is important to note that while the entertainment industry is one of the first to feel the impact of adverse events, it can also often be among the slowest to recover.
It can take up to a year for work levels to return to normal especially for those who rely on overseas work.
The performing arts inject a massive amount into the economy in terms of employment but it is often considered to be on one of the lower rungs on the ladder when it comes to priorities for support.
When it comes to events, such as live music, performing arts or shows, it is more than just something for audiences to do.
It’s a way to connect, to relate and to collectively enjoy something together and you can’t underestimate the impact this experience generates on the mental health and wellbeing of audience members.
The entertainment industry doesn’t just inject income into the economy, it injects fun, fulfilment and connectivity into society, as well as serving as a vital source of employment.
Q: Any guidance or tips for others who are feeling impacted during this challenging period?
A: Reach out to Entertainment Assist, they have a host of webinars and resources that are invaluable for those who work in the industry and might be finding it tough going.
These webinars are basically common sense in an uncommon time and touch on stuff that many people forget about when they are feeling overwhelmed.
Don’t be afraid to consider what works best for you and consider how you can link up with support, so you are in the best state you can be when it comes time to getting back out there again.
For me, it helps to acknowledge that there will be a change in business and the only way forward is flexibility.
It is just the way the entertainment business operates and I am trying to take this time for what it is - an opportunity to connect and get back to basics.
I always consider that you are only as good as your last audition, so always stay nimble and ready to respond.
Q: What can others do that would assist or help performers or entertainers during this time?
A: Follow us, listen to us, support and engage with us.
Consider what you watch, while you sit at home and enjoy Netflix, think about every single cog in the entertainment wheel who contributes to the creation of the creative works that you view every day.
The odds are, nearly everything you see, watch and listen to has been touched by creative professionals from the entertainment industry.
Find out more about Bobby Fox via www.bobbyfox.com or follow via Twitter @thedancingfox or Facebook @bobbyfoxmusic
Q&A with Entertainment Assist Program Manager Rae Bonney.
Q&A with Entertainment Assist General Manager Julia Edwards.
Learn what mental health is (and isn’t), to reap the benefits in your business.
Adverse events, such as natural disasters or public health crises, can have a significant impact on the mental health and wellbeing of communities and individuals, especially small business owners.