Fri, 04 Dec 2020

Turkish musician Tunca Bayoglu performs live music at a bar in Ankara, Turkey. (Xinhua Photo)

"I have lost 70 percent of my income since then. I used to play seven days a week in front of audiences in bars and restaurants before the outbreak," a Turkish musician says.

ANKARA, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- Turkish musician Tunca Bayoglu plays every gig as if it were his last, as new restrictions could be around the corner to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the capital Ankara.

Live music performed in front of real people has been in extremely short supply since mid-March when partial lockdown restrictions were imposed in the city.

"I have lost 70 percent of my income since then, I used to play seven days a week in front of audiences in bars and restaurants before the outbreak," the 46-year-old musician told Xinhua.

The guitar player and singer has, for most of his life, played live music in local venues, a profession that has allowed him and his partner to pay their bills.

Now everything has changed and he has to rely on government welfare, 1,170 Turkish lire (143.6 U.S. dollars) a month.

Turkish musician Tunca Bayoglu performs live music at a bar in Ankara, Turkey. (Xinhua Photo)

"I have managed recently to book three gigs a week in cafes but the pay is lousy as employers exploit the despair of musicians saying that there are plenty of jobless musicians to choose from," said Bayoglu.

The health crisis has left hundreds of musicians and artists jobless in Turkey. Despite some state and municipal assistance in big cities, they are left to fend for themselves for an unknown period of time.

Bayoglu had to sell a guitar and other instruments as well as a brand new camera to get cash.

"My parents also help me financially, otherwise we wouldn't have food on the table, it is as grave as this and there is no light in sight yet for live performance halls as long as the virus rages on," he said.

Bars and other performance venues in the nightlife districts have not been allowed to reopen since March. Only cafes and restaurants can serve customers, with limited capacity, putting additional strain on owners left with low incomes.

"I still consider myself lucky because I am a one-man show, I play the guitar and I sing," the musician said, some other musicians are in a worse situation.

Some musicians have turned to weddings to make money. However, dancing and music at weddings have also been banned, with ceremonies limited to one hour.

Yet despite the grim outlook and against all odds, Bayoglu still has faith in the future and hopes that things would return to normal soon when the pandemic is successfully controlled.

"I still have my health, that's something to be grateful for and I want to play again as soon as possible in front of packed audiences," he added.

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