Since the outbreak of Covid-19, he followed the news from his musician friends in many parts of the globe.  They were all negatively affected by the pandemic.  These musicians lost the opportunity to work, earn money and make a living.  Some states even used propaganda to make artists feel that their work was meaningless and had no social significance.  Artists were advised to change their occupation and “get a real job”.  This was extremely cruel and unfair to these creatives who work very hard to make their careers sustainable.

Journalist, blogger and music producer Victor Radzievskiy became extremely concerned to see artists left to fend for themselves.  He felt something needed to be done.  “At first I helped with money.  When money ran out, I called my friends Dave Richardson Jr who is the owner of The Real Jazz Ambassadors LLC and Alexey Kruglov, and asked them to make a documentary”, he told Jazz It Out.  The documentary that Radzievskiy who is the head of VR Jazz Agency which is based in Israel, Italy and Russia fully funded and produced titled “Being an Artist During the Covid Era” premiered on 20 July 2021.  It has drum solos by Petr Ivshin, plastic art performance by Karina Nesmeyanova with Allan Harris as a voiceover artist. Richardson Jr sponsored the making of the documentary.

Victor Radzievskiy

“Being an Artist During the Covid Era” includes 15 interviews with 15 artists from 15 countries.  These are South African saxophonist McCoy Mrubata, Italian saxophonist and music teacher Emanuele Cisi, German vocalist Michaela Steinhauser, British double bassist Yuri Goloubev, French pianist Cedric Hanriot, Dutch drummer Frits Landesbergen, American trumpeter Freddie Hendrix, Turkish vocalist Su Idil, Indian guitarist Manish Pingle, Indonesian guitarist Yuri Mahatma, Israeli guitarist and vocalist Liz Barak, Brazilian guitarist Nelson Faria, Japanese bassist Tatashi Sugawa, Russian pianist Daniel Kramer and Taiwanese saxophonist Minyen Hsieh. 

The documentary which is just over 40 minutes long is captivating from the beginning to the end.  Victor’s opening remarks and his dress sense paints a somber mood, a very dire situation which cannot be left to last longer than it has.  The sound of the drum by Petr and the moves by Karina makes it even more compelling to watch.  Allan is a brilliant choice for the role of voiceover artist. It sends a message that all is not well, people’s lives have been disrupted in a manner that is unprecedented.  Interviews with individual musicians are preceded by flags of their countries.  All these musicians are well known and respected in their countries but are very uncertain about their careers as a result of the pandemic. 

Victor did not use a specific selection criteria in choosing artists for this documentary.  Musicians explain how life has been challenging since the lockdown restrictions imposed as a result of Covid.  Some are lucky to earn an income as teachers, while others resorted to cooking and selling food.  In Brazil and Taiwan, there are no restrictions while Japan her eased off its restrictions.  The common factor in this documentary is that most governments don’t seem to have a plan to sustain careers of musicians.

South African saxophonist McCoy Mrubata

Radzievskiy is not impressed by the lack of decisiveness in saving the careers of artists by governments.  “They surely find the arts and culture less important to banks, oil and gas industries.  Most politicians are very materialistic and narrow-minded; often they are the worst representatives of the electorate”, he said.  Furthermore, because they are few in numbers, artists are not able to influence the decision-making processes of politicians, which creates a dangerous situation. He conceded that artists no longer have control over their lives and as result have lost their voice. “If you try to organize a protest, most states will label you a Covid extremist”, he added. 

In the past, musicians have recorded and performed music which raised issues affecting citizens from politics to economy, social justice, human rights and inequality.  Is it perhaps not the time for musicians to record music about their own suffering to create awareness?  Victor believes that this might be a brilliant idea to raise the issue with audiences that appreciate their music.  “Musicians must stop being afraid that they will be blamed and labelled irresponsible”, he told Jazz It Out.  He does acknowledge however that this “art protest” will only touch the hearts of people who already sympathize with artists. 

Not all artists are suffering though this difficult period.  Radzievski knows this too well.  “Don’t forget that there are some famous pop artists.  They are very rich and independent people who like to show how cool they are…gold, girls, and cars.  It’s important to convey the message that they are a tiny minority that does not have the right to represent others.  They live in a different environment compared to 90% of the artists”, he said.  He laments that these pop artists are silent right now which shows their real attitude to their colleagues and the arts industry in general.  It will be important for them to articulate their displeasure at how this period of “uncertainty” is affecting their colleagues.

Turkish vocalist Su Idil

Victor has suffered severe financial losses as a result of these Covid restrictions.  In addition to journalism and blogging, he is also a music producer.  He relies on live concerts, tours and festivals to sustain VR Jazz Agency.  “My business is almost destroyed.  In the past two years, my bank balance rarely exceeds a few thousand dollars.  I try to avoid debt but right now I’m on the verge of poverty”, he said.  At first, he was ashamed to disclose his financial situation but has gained the strength to talk about it openly.  With the little resources he has at his disposal, he still tries to help his musician friends and is doing his very best in fighting for the future he wishes all human beings to share.

What does he want this documentary to highlight and change for the benefit of artists?  “I have no answers for the reality that has been there for the last two years.  In an ideal world, I would say, to save the art and beauty you would redirect one or two percent of the defence expenditure to provide for things like theatre, music, cinema, museums, circles of philosophers and poets, fundamental and practical science”.  He is also concerned that jazz maybe relegated into an even less popular music genre. He believes that these are things that make life more meaningful.  Through the documentary, he is raising a “red flag”.  He is raising a concern that the world is losing something very important which may have serious negative consequences. 

Another huge concern Victor has is the negative consequences that may result if the careers of musicians are not saved.  “Some people might commit suicide, not being able to adapt.  Many artists will change their occupation.  We will lose a lot of promising artists”, he said.  Victor is also not impressed with the social media platform YouTube for blocking views on the documentary.  “I don’t just think so.  I know it.  Social media algorithms are driven by a pseudo positive news agenda”, he asserted.  In the film, the words “pandemic” and “Covid” are used.  As part of the fight against conspiracy and Covid pessimists, algorithms interfere with organic news coverage.  “Basically, I have made a documentary about people affected by Covid but I cannot use the word in the actual video if I want to promote it.  Absurd”, battling to hide his frustration.

US trumpeter Freddie Hendrix

One of the questions raised during this period is the role jazz fans play in raising concerns about what their favourite artists are going through.  Radzievskiy believes that in the current situation, musicians are left to their own devices.  “Only those who have loyal fans and have the courage to ask them for help will be able to stay afloat”, he told Jazz It Out.  He has also noted that too many artists need help.  Even though he predicts that huge festivals will return and will be filled by jazz enthusiasts, if may never be like the “pre-Covid” era.  History reminds us that things usually get worse before they get better.  There are also issues related to human rights and freedoms.

Despite the difficult period musicians are going through, Victor has some words of encouragement.  “Don’t let anyone or anything take away your dreams.  No politician, no state has the right to take away from you that, which your life is dedicated to”, not mincing his words.  He encourages musicians to have a clear understanding of why they are in the arts, and what their goals are.  They must fight for these values and wear them proudly.  “Register as entrepreneurs, form trade unions and organizations.  Don’t let yourself be ignored and considered invisible.  Remember that art is not measured with money or likes.  Never give up”, he concluded.

The documentary “Being an Artist During the Covid Era” can be viewed on YouTube –  Those that want to express their opinions on the documentary can drop an email to or  follow the Facebook Page His individual Facebook Account is Victor Radievskiy.  Like VR Jazz Agency on Facebook. Follow him on Instagram @vr_jazz_agency.  Subscribe to his YouTube channel VR Jazz Agency Y and visit his website