DAY 40 OF CONFINEMENT
Being an artist and making a living from it is hard. We all know. We knew it before we started dedicating our lives to it. But we try, and we try with all our heart and passion. I have been absolutely astonished by the reaction artists have given to this crisis. In Spain, once the number of COVID cases started to be alarming, all cultural events and venues closed down, artistic contracts were cancelled or postponed, and people found themselves without any sort of income for an unknown period of time.
To give a brief overview of how Spain is living this situation, I’d like to begin by talking about how late the serious measures were applied to stop the virus spreading. Before it all started, many people did not believe how scary everything was going to be, how many deaths we would have to face, how many families were going to be affected by losing relatives from one day to another, and how painful it would be not being allowed to say goodbye to them. Well, yes, strict measures were now applied in our country, we are under a state of alarm since the 14th of March, but before that day, we already had 5.753 cases and 136 deaths.
Currently, no one is allowed to leave the house unless they go groceries shopping (we have to do that separately), bring medicines, food or primary necessity products to the elderly or ill patients. Or unless they have a primary necessity job they have to go to, or returning from these jobs (proving why they haven’t been able to return earlier). It is also allowed to visit financial and insurance institutions, or leave the house because of force majeure/situation of need. If you set against the confinement, you have to face fines from 601 euros up to 10.400 euros. The government has extended the state of alarm three times, and now they are able to give us an approximate plan of what the next months will be like.
Coming back to how it has affected the artistic industry, it’s important to talk about the governmental specific financial aids to arts and culture. At first, the government declared that there were NOT going to be any specific aids for us, and our response was a 48 hours cultural blackout from all social media. It was called off on the 11th of March after the Ministry of Finance promised to listen to all the proposals from the Artist Unions, and give a response to them.
One of the main reasons that brought us to defend the 48h blackout, was also the huge effort that all artists had been making since day one of the confinement. And that despite the huge losses we had in many productions. Instead of getting fixated with the idea of what would happen us, having no way of earning money and being imposed – for the good of the country – to stay at home during 24h, we all stood up, connected, and started to find ways to entertain, calm, and lift the spirits of the people around us. Musicians and singers started to give concerts on their balconies, actors and actresses started to perform online, using social media as a way to get to everyone, Casting Directors started offering free one-to-one sessions, Q&A, and sharing texts to inspire actors to continue exercising their performing abilities.
On another note, and being a bit more specific about how I personally have lived these first 40 days of confinement, I would have to start by saying that it truly has been a roller coaster of emotions. I consider myself to be a quite social person, and I used to spend most of my day outside my house, working, meeting friends, assisting cultural event, and usually, If I had nothing going on, a bit of anxiety would kick in, and my way of coping with it was walking around the city, without any specific purpose other than to observe and calm my mind. The first week was the toughest, I found myself encaged, and having to find other ways to stay active, motivated and ready for what was to come. I tried to be very creative, to write lists of things to do, projects to film, and as most of the people I know, who were sharing this feeling: We all became a bit obsessed with being productive. That didn’t work out very well, the more I wanted to be productive, the lesser my energy wanted to be active. I had to find another way, so I took it day by day. Started by writing a timetable every morning, with very specific activities and actions that I wanted to accomplish that day. And that has kept me going until today. Luckily, I am not alone. I share an apartment with two other actresses, and we have worked together very much trying to stay healthy and supporting each other.
I have the hope that this situation is going to change soon, and our society is going to become a better one. Since the 14thof March, with the declaration of the state of alarm, every night at 8pm I experience one of the most beautiful and gratifying moments of the day, which is meeting all my balcony neighbours and clapping for all the primary necessity workers that are risking their lives every day, to save lives, to provide us with food and products. That keeps this country going.