As a musician who works in events, Ciarn's world has been turned upside down by the spread of COVID-19. Here's how things are playing out for Ciarn as a casual worker with no jobs to go to.
In light of the current situation taking place in Australia and all around the world it seems it would be easy to write about how you’re feeling, but for me, it truly is not the case.
I feel fine, my health is perfectly good and I have had no close encounters with anyone who has had their health affected by it. However, my mental wellbeing is definitely being tested at the moment because, to be honest, I really don’t know what to think of this whole situation and I’m usually the kind of person to rationalise everything going on around me internally. I can’t do that now because I simply don’t know.
I woke up on Monday to the news that I would not have work for the week. I could hear the apprehension in my boss’ voice when she told me and I knew deep inside that this was a whole lot bigger than what I had ever imagined.
I had every expectation of going to work this week because I work alone mostly and knew I wouldn’t be in close enough contact with anyone for it to have damaging effects on my health or theirs. But this whole situation has damaged more than my workplace.
I work in the events industry and every day I drive around to different pubs, cafes and restaurants delivering flyers and putting Blu-Tack on posters for a wide range of different events going on around Melbourne. My work is built by the arts, it’s what the business relies on and the arts and entertainment industry has crumbled in the last few days.
My work had 24 cancellations for campaigns in one day. One of those was The Melbourne International Comedy Festival and I was told that that single campaign brought in enough revenue to pay the staff for an entire year.
Everyone’s wages for an ENTIRE year.
I got off the phone and cried ‘cos I truly didn’t know what else to do, it hit home very quickly that this wasn’t going to be a one-week thing and I was overcome with anxiety.
How do they bring in enough money to be able to have us back working so we can get paid? I’m a casual worker so there’s no sick leave, there’s no holiday pay or anything like that. It’s simple—when there’s no work, there’s no work. How will I pay my rent, my bills and buy food for myself and my two furry babies?
I just went into pure panic mode and it’s still now very hard to swallow that pill. But there’s not much I can do.
Ciarn in Dumb Punts plays the North Wollongong Hotel, NSW | Source: Ciarn Gallagher
I’m also a musician, and there’s been some hard realities to come to terms with. Both the bands that I play in—Smooch and Dumb Punts—have had shows cancelled left, right and centre and our tour is hopefully going to be rescheduled but we just have to wait and see.
Venue owners who are friends and have supported my bands for the last five years are scraping the bottom of the barrel just to survive. It’s a very worrisome, troubling time for them because how do they keep their businesses afloat when people are being encouraged to stay in isolation? The venues cannot hold more than 100 people, the government may as well be in Hawaii as far as I see it and still the bills keep piling up?
It’s an unprecedented time in Australian history so it’s very hard for people to be able to understand what’s going on. I feel like we can either unite and fight this the best way we know how or the panic and fear will tear us apart and make this situation ten times harder than it already is.
I think the key at the moment is support and understanding that people can’t be expected to know how to act or what to do because no one really knows what’s going on or what is going to happen in the coming months.
You can see that from what I’m writing, that I’m trying my best to get my head around it but at the end of the day I really have no idea about what’s going on and I’m just trying to make it through each day. I need to try to keep my head afloat, doing puzzles, trying to read more, catching up with my friends via Facetime and thinking about all the little projects I’ve been wanting to do but haven’t had the time. Now I have plenty of time to follow some of my other creative pursuits. I also try to support those around me who really need it and find somewhere to buy some fucking toilet paper.
But until the virus is gone I just really do hope that people are kind to each other, that mother nature heals while we are laying low and that we all come out the end of this with a different perspective on the world and our priorities.