Kids on one side and entertainment on the other
In the north-east corner of Southbank is a long triangular stretch of grass just by Hamer Hall, which is also just big enough for soccer practice.
This is Pamela Whiting’s front yard and she’s getting ready to kick a ball with Alex and Olivia.
The Quay West resident moved here 21 years ago for the arts and the river.
During the lockdown she’s become an aficionado of online concerts and podcasts and is a donor to many of the arts organisations that surround her.
“I’ve saved a lot of money,” she said.
“I had tickets to all sorts of things.”
The productions are still closed but she has her grandkids back for the day after not seeing them during lockdown.
Fundraising is Pamela’s profession and she’s relaxed about the many appeals for money from arts organisations that are struggling.
“They’ve been absolutely fantastic about staying in touch with people,” she said.
“I feel so sad they were unable to do their productions live.”
“I think the Arts Centre has communicated well with their requests for support. They’ve been quite doable. They’ve provided a lot of information about the artists without being demanding about fundraising. I’m expecting their requests and I continue to give.”
She’s also contributed to Entertainment Assist which helps with the mental health of entertainers.
“They’re not well-paid, they’re always travelling and they get terrible money and don’t have the opportunity for ongoing relationships,” she said.
The downturn in the economy means that her own investments are worth a lot less than in January but her main fear is a return to isolation.
Like many Southbankers, her solace has been in the sunshine and the river, compensation for the collapse of social lives dependent on dining out and keeping up with the arts.
There’s no denying that Southbank has looked like a ghost town along the riverbank.
The presence of one or two walkers is not what businesses are used to.
She’s worried that those trying to open up will close again without the passing trade from IBM, the Herald and Weekly Times and Arts Centre Melbourne.
Pamela works from home, lives alone and has spent a lot of time in her own company.
She meets a friend every evening for a walk and is relieved that the Botanical Gardens have re-opened but is worried that her kind of lifestyle may be under threat.
“I’m really anxious we’ll all be locked up again,” she said.
The rowing clubs have remained open and she’s been able to take out a scull each morning.
The pool at her apartment block is also open for two at a time and the twins have been booked in for a swim.
That’s as much pleasure that can be squeezed into their visit during the school holidays •