I love the Olympics. Possibly more than most. I love the way it can bring a country together. I love the way my family consumes it together from the lounge room and celebrates Australian success and effort like these athletes are our close friends and family. And I love that my four year old now knows what “happy tears” are.
One of my favourite stories of the Games was the spirit of Cedric Dubler to inspire his teammate, Ash Moloney, to a Bronze medal in the decathlon. This is the event where athletes are tested not once, but ten times – 100m sprint, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400m sprint, 110m hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and finally a 1500m run. The scoring system is complicated, but the facts leading into the final race were known by the more experienced competitor Dubler, and so, out of medal contention himself, he took to motivating, encouraging and pushing the younger Moloney to complete the final race in a time that would secure him the Bronze medal, the first in this event in Australian history. This was a sensational human effort resulting in an outcome not for himself, but for his team mate and country. “Doing a Dubler” now has the potential to become part of our Aussie vernacular for helping your mates!
As the Olympics draws to a close, I reflect on the exceptional Australian Performances – the Dubler’s, the success of the swim team, the class and humility of Patty Mills, the honesty of Skye Nicolson and the super-human effort and teamwork of all the Olympians and their support teams.
I also reflect on my thoughts around even holding a global event in the middle of a pandemic. But sometimes you just have to keep going. You have to get to the starting line and be ready to step up, embrace, react and keep going.
I also reflect on the Prime Minister’s statement at the beginning of this pandemic “it’s not a race”, but for those of us in the entertainment industry, it is a race.
A race to reopen our theatres.
A race to get our out of work performers, stage-hands, administrators and marketers back working.
And a race to get audiences off their couches and back in our venues.
Australia led strongly in the early days of the pandemic and international producers wanted to stage their shows here. In 2020, you could’ve called us the golden child. We had strong safety measures at the venues. Theatre owners, managers, producers and promotors made sacrifices – amongst many, is accepting reduced capacities just to open the doors.
As of today, we have our two major cities in lockdown, and all of our entertainment venues are closed. People are out of work, without any degree of certainty when they will be back. The impact of this on the arts and entertainment industry and the people who make it thrive is far reaching.
So it is a race. We must find a way to get our theatres back open. Consistently. I’m not sure it takes a rocket scientist, or indeed an arts marketer, to work out that vaccination is the way forward.
So here’s the call to arms. We need the Australian public to be the Dubler to the entertainment industries Maloney. We need your support. We need you to get vaccinated so the theatres can open and stay open. And then we need you to buy tickets to our live events.
The big difference between sport and entertainment is by definition, sport is about competition and therefore winning. Entertainment is about participating. In this instance, sitting back and watching the art unfold before you. And for live theatre, we just can’t do that from our lounge rooms.