Uruguayan entertainment workers forced to reinvent themselves during pandemic
By Alejandro Prieto
Montevideo, Apr 26 (EFE).- Thunderous applause, whistles of approval, tours, festivals.
That entire scene seems part of the distant past, but it once provided employment for hundreds of Uruguayan artists, producers and technicians who now must reinvent themselves during the pandemic.
Juan Falcone, 38, told Efe he has spent nearly half of his life in the world of arts and entertainment, initially finding work transporting stage equipment and gradually taking on other responsibilities.
When Uruguay declared its Covid-19 health emergency on March 13, 2020, Falcone was at a festival in Mexico City with the Latin Grammy Award-winning Uruguayan band El Cuarteto de Nos.
Although at that time he also was working with bands such as Bajofondo, La Vela Puerca and No Te Va Gustar and to this day remains El Cuarteto de Nos’s technical director, he saw his business rapidly dry up due to the crisis.
Many others suffered a similar plight even though Uruguay became a pioneer last July in terms of the resumption of live shows at reduced capacity (although those events are currently suspended due to a recent spike in coronavirus cases).
In need of income, Falcone started down a completely new path as a blacksmith.
“I just go for it. I don’t know how to do something and I try it anyway,” said Falcone, who has received assistance from a neighbor working in that profession. He says the job involves a lot of hard work but is an “honorable” trade that is bringing him a lot of satisfaction.
Another entertainment worker forced to abruptly change course has been Juan Carlos Muñoz, founding partner and acrobat with Circo Tranzat – the first circus company of its kind in Uruguay with its own tent.
Muñoz, who received acrobat training for 15 years from Russian and French instructors, had been trying for seven years to make his business work in a small market when the pandemic struck.
Needing to put his skills to use in another line of work, he and a partner formed a company offering high-rise pruning services.
Although he is now earning a steady income, he said he misses the thrill of being an acrobat.
“There are a lot of moments of vulnerability in creative development. You’re very exposed, and those are sensations that I personally miss, the vulnerability of being in front an audience,” he says.
Even so, he said he finds his current work challenging and greatly appreciates having daily “contact with nature.”
Uruguayan recording artist Lucia “Rodra” Rodriguez said she felt alone and frustrated over a lack of activity during the pandemic until she and a friend launched a project to make T-shirts featuring niche bands’ album covers, a product not typically found in the market.
“We were thinking of doing something between the two of us (that would be) motivating, because you have to change up the energy too; during this quarantine, I live alone, I’m with myself all day long,” she said.
Rodriguez has had to put the store on pause, however, due to a lack of revenue and now is eager to get back to what she knows.
“I’m really not a retailer. I’m not a designer,” she said. EFE