Senior musical theater major reflects on status of arts industry amid pandemic


PITTSFORD, N.Y. (WROC) — Ty-Gabriel Jones is a preparing for his last semester with virtual auditions, zoom dance classes and rehearsals. He is one of many students preparing to graduate in a world where job-searching and networking is going to look a lot different. For him specifically, it’s preparing for the arts industry – something that is ever-changing.

Jones is a senior musical theater major at Nazareth College. Since March – all the preparations for finding work in the industry were hit with the curveball of COVID-19.

“Definitely overwhelming uncertainty ya know…you really hope that the work is there when you leave,” he said.

In just this year alone, the arts industry lost over 2 million jobs nationally – 10,000 of those in New York. The big hit, happening over the summer, at a time where students like Jones, would be preparing the most for their portfolio.

“Many of us did virtual productions, we would be on zoom,” he said.

Jones says right now, it’s all about finding ways to achieve all the things he normally would’ve, just in a different, more creative way.

“We networked pretty hard this summer. When you’re forced to search for more work, and different work, you meet more people and connect with more people,” he said.

And with recent news of Governor Cuomo announcing a New York Arts Revival plan to introduce rapid COVID-19 testing as a way to open up live venues again – Jones sees this as a sliver of hope.

“Start with regional theater companies, Broadway if you can … it’s also important to discuss the reasons why maybe we shouldn’t. Because although it’s essential that we do it, we need to make sure we do it as helpfully and as safely as possible.”

Nazareth college students will return back to school on Feb. 1., this delay, a result of the COVID-19 surges in our area.

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