Putrajaya aware musicians are in a fight for survival, says Nancy

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Nancy Shukri, Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah (centre) and Persatuan Pemuzik Tempatan Selangor secretary John Sham.

PETALING JAYA: Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Nancy Shukri, who is in the centre of a furore over her statement that live musicians are not severely affected by the Covid-19 crisis, today acknowledged the dark and challenging times ahead for the creatives.

Nancy said the pandemic has had profound impact on musicians and that the government was taking measures to mitigate their hardship.

She said the government understood that musicians and venues were in a fight for survival.

She was responding to Persatuan Pemuzik Tempatan Selangor (PPTS), which had relayed to her the views of musicians upset over her comments in a TV talk show last Friday.

Talking to her hosts in a segment on “Covid-19: Have the Arts Been Forgotten”, she had said “those who are in bands and musicians … it’s not that difficult for them because it’s easy for them to plan things and we are always responsive towards them. My only concern is for those who are in the travel agencies …”

The musicians felt the government was not aware that they had to cut everything to the bone and were facing a devastating future.

Nancy told PPTS she understood the upshot of Covid-19 on out-of-work musicians who were suffering “financially and emotionally”.

She appreciated their streaming efforts over social media to connect the isolated and lift the spirit of the nation during this period of restricted movement that had resulted in the absence of gigs and zero income.

She invited PPTS and other organisations representing the industry to meet with her to figure out a pathway through this crisis to avoid irreversible damage to careers and the industry. She said her ministry would collaborate with the ministry of communications and multimedia to achieve these objectives.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah met with music representatives of various bodies last Friday to discuss the crisis.

PPTS secretary John Sham said the meeting was to map a strategy to create income opportunities for musicians and to keep the industry viable.

He said Saifuddin recognised the unique level of disruption and uncertainty involving the industry and requested that the stakeholders put their heads together to work on solutions urgently.

John said the discussions bore positives and there was hope of a bright outcome provided everyone channelled their efforts in the right direction.

He said the ministry had extended its hand to PPTS since January when they first met to discuss the challenges faced by professionals performing in clubs, pubs and hotels.

“We must realise that Covid-19 brought unprecedented chaos that caused every imaginable sector to reel.

“We have to bear with those who don’t fully understand the difficulties the music industry is facing and should be patient in our approach to finding solutions,” he said.

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