Irish entertainment industry calls for increased Covid supports

by James Hendicott

Musicians and the broader live entertainment industry people banded together last week to issue a call for increased government support in an industry decimated by the corona virus and the associated restrictions that prevent many events from taking place.

In an open letter signed by over 600 acts (including U2, Sinead O’Connor, Kodaline, Hozier, Lisa Hannigan and Daniel O’Donnell) and 115 live venues from around the country, the group, calling themselves EPIC, asked for specific supports for the industry in order to survive the current situation, and pointed out the long-standing cultural and economic benefits the live entertainment industry has brought to Ireland.

There are three specific requests in the letter, which points out that those involved are highly skilled professionals in a range of roles, from performance to lighting and sound, promotion, or the construction of temporary stages.

The signatories request that the PUP payment of €350 is restored until the sector is reopened and its staff are able to return to work. It also asks for grant funding to be raised in the sector to a level proportional with what has been allocated to the Arts Council in 2020, pointing out that the sector is far more important to the Irish economy than the Council’s work.

Finally, the letter asks for due consideration to be given to the commercial live events sector in a task force set up by Catherine Martin on September 10.

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#ThisIsWhoWeAre An open letter from the Live Events and Entertainment Sector. We are highly skilled professionals. We are essential businesses and services. We are musicians and artists, carpenters and creators. We are stagehands, technicians and experts. We are sounds, lights and visuals. We are tears, laughter and gasps of excitement. We are the Christmas Panto. We are concerts. We are festivals. We are food fairs. We are parades. We are conferences. We are exhibitions. We are theatres. We are dance. We are national celebrations & state visits. We are the best nights of your lives. We were the first industry to shut, and we will most likely be the last one to fully reopen. This. Is. Who. We. Are. Show your support by emailing your local TD at the swipe up link in our IG story . To view the full Pre Budget Submission outlining the government requests from @EPIC_workinggroup needed to scaffold and protect The Live Entertainment & Events Sector, head to epicwg.com. @culture.heritage.gaeltacht

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It is estimated that the live events sector supports approximately 35,000 Irish jobs, and contributes €3.5 billion to the Irish economy annually, attracting visitors to different locations and contributing to the hotel sector along the way.

Naturally, the artistic side of the industry has contributed to getting the message out there, with a video entitled ‘This Is Who We Are’, voiced by Stephen James Smith, released to help get the message across. In it, amid clips of the Dublin Marathon and the Pope’s visit, The Cure headlining Electric Picnic and a crowd bouncing tricolor in hand, he explains “this is the moment before the lights go out.”

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