Artist-driven vaccination campaign urges audiences to play a part in pandemic recovery

Victorian audiences are being urged to give the ‘performance of a lifetime’ by getting vaccinated.

Addressing vaccine hesitancy and the urgent need to lift vaccination numbers nationally, a new public health campaign was launched today (19 July) urging audiences to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The artist-driven campaign was conceived and delivered by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) and encourages audiences to play their part by getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

Recognising that emotional responses are an effective tool in advertising, the vaccination campaign taps into a sense of community spirit – as well as audiences’ love for the live performances they are missing during lockdown – by asking people to give the community their ‘performance of a lifetime’.

The content is based on health communication theories and models to address vaccine hesitancy in the community.

Artists such as Deborah Cheetham AO, Tim Minchin, Meow Meow, Rhonda Burchmore OAM, Virginia Gay, Tripod, and members of The Australian Ballet, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Theatre Company, Short Black Opera and many more are also participating in the social media campaign.

‘Whether we play in an orchestra, act within an ensemble or dance in the corps de ballet, it’s essential that we each perform to our highest standards in order to deliver the performance of a lifetime,’ said MSO Managing Director Sophie Galaise.

‘Along with our colleagues in the arts community, we are encouraging our audiences and the wider community to get vaccinated so we can all get back to doing what we love – whether that’s playing contact sports, enjoying a meal with our loved ones, or getting back on stage to entertain our treasured audiences.’

Read: Melbourne joins Sydney in lockdown as COVID cases rise

Written and directed by Emma Muir-Smith, the campaign is based on health advice which recognises that mass vaccination is essential to preventing further lockdowns and avoiding the need for social distancing and subsequent limited venue capacities.

It follows the recent release of two vaccination campaign ads created by the Federal Government which were widely criticised for being ‘weak and very lazy’ and ‘insensitive’ according to prominent members of the advertising industry.

Victoria’s Minister for Creative Industries, The Hon Danny Pearson MP applauded the MSO’s creative and community leadership.

‘Our arts community is doing everything they can to recover and reactivate and this campaign is a clever and creative way of encouraging audiences to play their role and get vaccinated. If you can get vaccinated, please book in or visit a Hub – the sooner we get vaccinated, the sooner we can get back to doing the things we love,’ he said.

The social media campaign, which will also be aired at select MSO performances, was filmed at St Vincent’s Hospital Royal Exhibition Building Vaccination Hub and Arts Centre Melbourne.

The video will include captions for priority languages recommended by the Department of Health – Arabic, Cantonese, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Mandarin, Punjabi and Vietnamese.

Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM, and serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Living Legend in 2017. In 2020 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize. Most recently, Richard was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Green Room Awards Association in June 2021. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts