Never underestimate the power of performance.

Damn, 2020. Will the chaos ever stop?

Job loss is one of the most common hardships we are feeling right now. COVID-19 has forced many small businesses to involuntarily close, has required large companies to lay off mass numbers of employees and has compelled many people to re-evaluate their lives.

Today I got an emotional text from my sister, who lives in Florida, telling me that Disney World has just laid off thousands of equity performers. Many of her friends are performers and are being forced to leave their dream career. Two of these equity performers, a husband and wife with 3 beautiful daughters, happen to be two of my friends who are very close to my heart. I worked with them both at World of Disney NYC over 10 years ago. They also happen to be two of the most talented performers I have ever known.

Brooke Finlayson, Disney Performer & Friend
Travis Finlayson, Disney Performer & Friend

Not only did this news make my heart crumble with feelings of empathy for their family, but also for every single performer. Not only is this heartbreaking for the arts industry as a whole, but also for every audience member who fell in love with the Finding Nemo show, Festival of the Lion King, Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and the Beauty & the Beast stage show. For every Disney fan that loved the equally charming and comedic moments of Turtle Talk with Crush and Citizens of Hollywood.

Aside from losing a job, they’re losing a huge part of who they are. Their creative means of expression, their outlet. Not only for performers on stage, but the crew who works to create the magic. Lighting designers, sound engineers, stagehands. This news compounded with the announcement that Broadway will be closed until May 2021. Where are these performers able to continue honing their craft? How can they continue to shine their light to bring hope & encouragement to us all during one of the most challenging times? Take away the performing arts… it’s as if the lights have gone out on the world.

So many performers chase their dreams and sacrifice so much to have a career that allows them to share their gifts and inspire the world. It is what makes them feel alive. It’s what they were put here to do. Not only does it fuel the performer’s soul, but it simultaneiously brings so many humans to life. Do you remember when you went to a concert, or saw a broadway show or watched a performance that brought you to life and inspired you? Live performance creates a ripple effect, inspiring us to live more vibrantly; to see things differently. Art heals. Art saves. My heart is broken to hear this news, and not only because more jobs were lost, but because an artist’s career that was preceeded by sacrifice, determination, hard work, courage & discipline is put on hold.  

As a friend reminded me a few months ago … “be ever-mindful of silver linings” ( thank you, Marianna Litovich). This simple mantra allows everyone to continue to hold onto the hope that this is only temporary and perhaps this opens the door for something even more beautiful to come about.

The world is not the same without performance. The energy is not the same. I know this, because I’m living it. Keep dancing. Keep singing. Keep acting. Keep playing. Keep having kitchen dance parties. Keep singing in the shower. Keep writing. Keep creating.

Art is a powerful catalyst for positive change in the world. Keep supporting the arts.

Don’t lose the piece of the puzzle that makes you feel whole.
And no matter what … just. keep. swimming.