The webinar on the afternoon of 14 October 2020 was chaired by Dr Rickard Moen, the International Chair of the Society of Occupational Medicine, in conjunction with BAPAM. He started off the event by saying that culture is a hugely important part of our society, which is why it was important to study the impact of COVID-19 on the performing arts industry. The webinar featured 20-minute talks by three experts who Dr Moen explained were all intimately involved in advising professional bodies on the topic of Occupational Medicine and the performing arts.



First to speak was Dr Natalie Watson, ENT Specialist with a particular interest in Laryngology and singing. She spoke about what she had been working on in last few months, in particular the PERFORM study. A Working Group which stands for ParticulatE Respiratory matter to InForm Guidance for the Safe Distancing of perfOrmeRs in a COVID-19 pandeMic (PERFORM).

It was set up to look at the amount of aerosol produced when breathing, speaking, shouting, coughing and singing. Dr Watson conducted the ground breaking study alongside a group of colleagues, which included Consultant ENT surgeon and Chair of BAPAM’s Vocal Health Working Group Mr Declan Costello.

She said, “the suspension of an activity like singing on such a large scale led the team to try and understand, what if any, specific elements of singing was actually dangerous.” The challenge they faced was trying to work out how they could safely re-start, mitigate the risk and impact on livelihoods.

Click here to view the PERFORM study

A safe place to work


Second to speak was Dr Finola Ryan, Specialist Registrar in Occupational Medicine and Honorary Lecturer on the Performing Arts Medicine programme at UCL. She covered legislation and guidance related to the industry, as well as principles of risk assessment and controlling risk. She explained this through the BAPAM risk assessment document she co-authored with Consultant Occupational Physician Dr Naomi Brecker and BAPAM Chief Executive Claire Cordeaux.

Click here to view the BAPAM Risk assessment template for freelancers.

Safe return to performance


Virtual delegates then got a chance to hear from Dr Mark Cunningham-Hill who is based over in the States. He is a senior executive and physician, as well as advisor to the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) and Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC). He talked about mitigating strategies and supporting the safe return to performances.

The session ended with a Q&A with the all the speakers.