When the coronavirus pandemic shut down the theatre industry it left thousands of performers, crew and creatives without a job. Joshua Robson was performing in Shrek The Musical at the time, but the cancellation of theatre around the country meant that not only did he lose his job as a performer, he also lost work as a producer. His upcoming season of Bonnie and Clyde at the Hayes Theatre was another show that fell victim to coronavirus closures.
With all this sudden time on his hands, Joshua Robson’s brain started ticking. He was still keen to produce and he wanted to get some content out there.
James Cutler had also lost his job, performing in the cast of School of Rock. He contacted Robson about his ideas. They wanted to get artists working again, and together they came up with Lights Up On The Arts (Home Delivery) – a live Facebook event with a link to a Go Fund Me page for audiences to financially contribute.
The event was a huge success and the money raised went directly to everyone involved in putting the concert together.
At 7pm on Friday 19th June, the event returns as Lights Up On The Arts – Not Done Yet.
The event will again feature theatre stars performing live, but this time Robson wants to incorporate more theatricality into the event – with a live band, and lighting and sound technicians involved.
The live aspect is an important part of the event.
“That’s what makes theatre ‘theatre’,” said Robson.
He explained that theatre audiences like to watch a live, unedited performance. It’s also a different experience for the performers when they are going live. Robson said that many of the performers complained about being nervous.
His reply: “Of course you should be nervous, this is what we do, this is what we love!”
The concert also helped the mental health of many of those performing, by giving them a purpose and something to rehearse, moving them out of what some described as a dark place.
Robson opted for the Go Fund Me approach to allow anyone to view the event and to be able to contribute what they can afford.
“We don’t want to be seen as singing for our supper. This is our job, and we’re providing you with a link that you can pay what you can afford, rather than us providing you with a link to donate to us because we need your support.”
Joshua Robson encourages audiences watching the live Facebook event to consider what they’d normally spend when going out for a night at the theatre – meals, drinks, tickets – and donate that money to the event.
“We’ve left it open – you can pay $5 or $500,” Robson explained.
Whatever amount is raised will be shared equally amongst everyone involved in staging the event, which will also include a 5% donation to the Ilbijerri Theatre Company – Australia’s leading and longest running Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander theatre company.
“We’re putting the spotlight where it does need to be shone. We checked with all of our company and everyone agreed straight away. So everyone is getting paid, and everyone is donating 5% of their share,” said Robson.
Joshua Robson has pulled together another impressive cast for the event, with a wide range of performers all keen to participate. The theme for the event will be resilience.
“Focusing on what people are doing now, and how they’re pushing through, and what they’re creating. The resilient industry,” commented Robson.
Joshua Robson is hopeful this next event will be even more successful than the first one.
“I know there’s a lot of content out there, but ours is completely live and every cent goes towards everything you’re seeing.”
Lights Up On The Arts Not Done Yet is happening on Facebook from 7pm on Friday 19th June at this site: https://www.facebook.com/joshuarobsonproductions/