Supporting an industry brought to its knees
On Friday 27th August, the Taoiseach made an announcement. Yet another announcement, that had thousands of households and their livelihoods hanging in the balance.
Over the past months, there has been a gradual easing of restrictions as our Vaccine programme was implemented. And while we can get our eyebrows waxed or plucked and our beards trimmed or shaved… And while we could gather in-doors (with capacity restrictions and proof of immunity) to dine and drink, we could not listen to live music nor live entertainment.
A whole industry of musicians, technicians, producers, tour and event managers, promotors and venues were left waiting, surviving for the most part on PUP payments or TWSS. And anyone supporting a family who has spent time earning PUP will understand how challenging that is.
With so many people so profoundly impacted by the continued restrictions in place governing this industry, it is of little surprise that the Taoiseach had the ears of the nation. In addition to all those working within the industry, there was a nation of people eager to access a key lifeline of our social and cultural lives… live music and entertainment.
This industry has lobbied government continuously over the past months. The EIAI and other industry representative bodies have met with Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin calling for recognition that this sector is one of the last remaining sectors to be provided with a pathway to or a date for reopening. And to recognise the ‘Event Industry’ and acknowledge it for the valuable economic sector that it is amongst other core asks.
Finally, after the nation took a stand, uniting behind the industry, the Taoiseach took to the podium once more and announced the next 3 miles stones that will take us along road to the reopening of society. These included the gradual easing of restrictions on live events.
Sept 6th Milestone… what we can expect:
- • Organised indoor events and mass gatherings including cinemas and theatres, can take place with capacity limits of 60% of the venue capacity where all patrons are fully vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 within previous 6 months), or accompanied minors (under 18), in line with sectoral guidance.
For groups of mixed immunity status, there will be no change to the current restrictions in September.
- • For indoor live music, drama, live entertainment and sporting events, the audience should be fully seated.
- • Live music at weddings will be permitted. There will be no change to the current limits (100 people) during September.
- • Organised outdoor events and mass gatherings can take place with capacity limits of 75% where all patrons are fully vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 within previous 6 months), or accompanied minors (under 18), in line with sectoral guidance.
- • Where attendees have mixed immunity status, the capacity limit will be 50%, and subject to protective measure, like social distancing between group and facemasks.
- • The easing of capacity limit restrictions does not apply to large privately organised social events.
Sept 20th Milestone… what we can expect:
- • Organised indoor group activities (sports, arts, culture, dance classes) can take place with capacity limits of 100 people (with appropriate protective measures) where all patrons are immune (fully vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 within previous 6 months), or accompanied minors (under 18).
- • Where patrons have mixed immunity status, pods of up to 6 participants will be permitted (excluding adult leaders/teachers).
- • Multiple pods will be permissible subject to protective measures.
- • Number of pods will have regard to the size of venue and substantial social distance between individual pods.
Oct 22nd Milestone… what we can expect:
From 22 October onwards, further restrictions will be lifted including:
- • Requirements for physical distancing
- • Requirements for mask wearing outdoors and in indoor private settings
- • Limits on numbers at indoor and outdoor events and activities
- • Restrictions on religious or civil ceremonies
- • Limits on numbers that can meet in private homes/gardens
- • Certification of vaccination, immunity or testing as a prerequisite for access to, or engagement in, any activities or events (with exception of international travel)
- • Restrictions on high-risk activities (nightclubs for example)
Measures that will remain in place include:
- • self-isolation when we have symptoms
- • mask wearing in healthcare settings, indoor retail and on public transport
So what does all this mean for the Events Industry of Ireland?
There have been many sighs of relief across the country, as families can look forward to an income after so long. However, are the measures enough and will it enable sustainability for the industry?
The industry comes in all shapes and sizes from stadium to theatre, pub venues to outdoor events. For now, many of our initial live events are funded under the LPSS or other funding from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. When this funding ends (end Oct) the industry will struggle to deliver profitable events with reduced capacities.
The Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland has called for support as live music returns at reduced capacity. “Our industry will not be fully reopened until we achieve 100% capacity. Our industry will still display the scars of the financial hardship and mental health struggles many of us have endured and now, more than ever, we need our Government to listen to our voices and support us well into 2022. We need that support so we can build our businesses, build our and your confidence, but most importantly, so we can build, upon our rich and proud heritage and culture, and industry that is bigger, brighter, bolder than ever before.”
As an industry, there is no disputing that fact that the live entertainment sector has been overlooked by Government and that as an industry, they have been the hardest hit by the pandemic. It is an industry that must now be supported by Government and by us all as we re-emerge into our social worlds, embracing live entertainment as we go, each of us respecting the safety of our community and playing our part to enable this great industry to re-open at 100% and to grow.
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