Surviving A Catastrophic Year for Dance

Anna Alvarez was one of the dance artists we were able to support through The Jamie Watton Fund 2020 , thanks to the generosity of our donors. She tells us more about her experience during the pandemic and how the fund was able to offer some relief at the end of last year.

Anna Alvarez

‘The COVID 19 pandemic marked the beginning of an extraordinary period for us all. I was working on a project in Colombia in February when the scale of the pandemic began to unfold. By the end of March all work into June 2021 was cancelled within the space of a week. It was unreal and happening too fast to reflect or understand properly. 

‘Life began to be a case of day-by-day living, not looking into the future but making the best possible of the situation. My partner, also a freelance production manager in the arts, was equally affected and we found ourselves with the uneasy task of living off February wages into the summer. 

‘COVID 19 has been catastrophic for many on so many levels - for dance and performing it was a disaster. With so much uncertainty, many colleagues and our wider networks were unwilling to plan or to consider When? How? What? It was like everything shrank inwards and we were left with a shell of what had been and only a guess at when our work would pick up again. I think for the freelance sector this was particularly difficult. Some of us were not eligible for SEISS and, with no furlough in place, there wasn’t any choice but to find other ways of working and earning an income.

‘I dealt with this by searching for work as a facilitator and translator, and also on the Freelance Task Force with 169 other freelancers, pushing to build back better. Work was all intermittent and, by the second lock down, the uncertainty and stress of not being able to make payments and rent were hitting.

‘I received the Jamie Watton Fund in December and it came as an enormous help, a weight off my shoulders in time to be able to relax into Christmas. It would have been a very different end of the year without help from the fund and I feel enormously grateful to all the donors and South East Dance for their support. As we start to emerge from this strange and life-changing moment I hope we can nurture and strengthen the community bonds within our dance community and beyond. 

Thank-you again to all the donors, your help has made a huge difference.’ 

The Jamie Watton Fund was set up in 2018, in memory of our late Artistic Director & Chief Executive Jamie Watton (1966 – 2018), who was a passionate advocate for the dance sector and, in particular, the artists who make dance such an important part of the UK’s cultural landscape. To date we have raised nearly £25,000 - and continue to welcome donations - to help complete The Dance Space and to offer support to artists, especially those at the start of their careers. 

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