THE Limestone Coast was their training ground to hone their craft before taking on the world, but now professional performing artists are returning to the region to ride out the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among those relocating to the region before the introduction of strict travel restrictions globally was renowned performer Sam Malseed, who has spent several weeks back in Mount Gambier.
Mr Malseed was performing as part of the Firedance tour across the United Kingdom when the virus started to take hold across Europe, with the tour cut short as the health crisis grew and venue closures took effect.
Now working alongside his father Jason at Malseed Real Estate, the talented performer encouraged the community to support the performing arts industry post-COVID-19.
“I was planning on coming home after the season and working in real estate with my father but once they shut down the theatres in the UK I decided to just take the next plane home,” Mr Malseed said.
“Two days after I boarded the plane they locked down the UK and the day after I arrived back in Mount Gambier they shut the borders so I was very lucky with my timing.”
While understanding of the decision, Mr Malseed said the major tour’s cancellation was disappointing given the time spent rehearsing.
“We worked so hard towards the show only to have it cancelled about one third of the way through,” he said.
“In the grand scheme of things there is not much performers can do now except wait it all out.”
Mr Malseed remained optimistic the performing arts and creative community would shine once the coronavirus situation eased.
“There are a lot of creative minds which are locked up at the moment with nothing to do but write, paint, choreograph and I do believe the performing arts will have a massive boom once this is all over,” he said.
“I think it will just blow everyone out of the water.”
Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre venue manager Frank Morello said it had been an extraordinarily difficult time for a lot of Australian artists, with the Mount Gambier-based venue closing its doors before the introduction of Federal Government restrictions.
“We have had several productions which have been cancelled or postponed either until later in the year or next year and we are just working through that now,” Mr Morello said.
“We had the Gospel According to Paul scheduled in March and we were looking forward to hosting that, we worked hard on the campaign and had a good audience base coming along but the day before we decided to pull the show.”
This was followed just days later by the government announcement theatres could no longer operate, one of many measures implemented in the name of social distancing.
“It was quite stressful to cope with that and then more productions were cancelled or postponed,” Mr Morello said.
“The arts industry and the hospitality industry were among the first to be hit hard by the restrictions because they are both areas of work which heavily relies on people.
“That is what makes this such a devastating crisis.”
Mr Morello remained positive about the future of performing arts in the Limestone Coast, urging the community to support the sector in the rebound from COVID-19.
“I do hope the community supports our artists at some point such as they have supported us in significant causes,” he said.
“I would love to see people get in there and try and raise money for people who are suffering and going through difficult times because it would be lovely to support them.”