Calls for funding for event workers, 300 days on from industry closure

by Dublin Gazette

There have been further calls for ‘hardship funding’ to be provided to struggling event workers and artists, over 300 days since the industry shuttered on March 13 2020.

Dublin South Central TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh (SF) has urged the Government to ‘urgently’ consider proposals submitted by the Music & Entertainment Alliance of Ireland (MEAI).

Whilst other areas of Ireland’s economy have had temporary reopening periods, the live events sector has been closed since March 2020. Over 35,000 individuals are employed in this sector, which contributes €3.5 billion annually to the Irish economy.

MEAI submitted a proposal for a ‘COVID Music and Entertainment Grant’ in December to the Department for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. However, Teachta Ó Snodaigh alleges that Culture Minister Catherine Martin has yet to deliver to those in need in this sector.

Teachta Ó Snodaigh said: “The music and live events industry employs 35,000 workers… yet they’ve been left out of vital funding supports including the COVID Recovery Support Scheme (CRSS) and Enterprise Support Grant.

“Instead of listening to the industry, the government made big announcements about ‘support’ schemes that took months to become available, depended on a reopening that never came, and pitted struggling artists against one another in competitions for funding, with those most in need losing out.”

The TD alleges that ‘big names’ in the industry were awarded ‘multiple grants’ through the Music Industry Stimulus package, and that he believes that the process ‘lacked transparency’.

He continued: “Musicians and entertainers need a survival package, not survival of the fittest.

“We all want to get back to enjoying music and entertainment again, but there won’t be any to return to if workers are forced to sell their instruments and leave the industry behind because they can’t get by.”

In response to Ó Snodaigh’s comments, Minister Martin told Dublin Gazette said her Department has provided ‘significant increases to artists and to the entertainment industry’ in effort to offset the financial impact on the industry.

Minister Martin said: “As with all other sectors, the universal supports of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme apply to the arts and entertainment sectors.

The annual allocation to the Arts Council has increased from €80m in 2020 to €130m this year. It provides significant funding to arts practitioners, artists, musicians, actors and in 2020, many of its bursaries and commissions were awarded to [those] that had not previously been funded by the Council.

“I was pleased to secure €50 million in support for the sector in Budget 2021, which will encompass a range of grant supports for live events to take place in the coming months. The allocation will include measures which will build on grant schemes launched last year.”

Minister Martin said that 184 bands and musicians were awarded a total of €896,000 under the Music Industry Stimulus package, allowing musicians to record music, funding 79 song writing camps and 56 album releases.

She continued: “Under the pilot “Live Performance Support Scheme”, over €5 million in grant funding was provided to assist venues, producers and promoters to produce live performances, with a total of 59 organisations benefiting from this pilot scheme, which enabled the employment of hundreds of [industry staff and creatives].

“I am very conscious of the unprecedented nature of the challenge facing the sector, not least from a financial point of view, and further supports will be launched in the coming weeks.”

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