Entertainment is being forced to restart – can we do it better this time?

by James Hendicott

It’s important to preface this article, of course, with sympathy. People don’t deserve to lose their jobs because of the industry they’re in, and it being disproportionally impacted by the coronavirus.

Aside from the upper echelons of the industry – and those are slim – entertainment is not a reliable or well-paid profession, and many will be suffering. We feel for them.

Still, once this is all over, perhaps we can do things a little better? 

Traditionally, times of strife are also, amid it all, times to reevaluate, and think about doing things in a different way. There are so many ways this could be done in entertainment, and many of them would be beneficial.

There are a lot of things in entertainment that are unfair, for example. We all know that the additional fees often applied to tickets are a bit of a farce. Nobody deserves what’s often more than 10% of the ticket price for printing – or often not even printing – a ticket.

Nobody deserves to be scalped for tickets, and there’s far more that can be done to prevent touting, an area that those who really want to (Glastonbury, for example) have already all-but eliminated. Fair transfers of tickets at face value is a very achievable objective.

Later nights can be introduced. There are issues with noise and antisocial behaviour, sure, but Dublin is a modern capital today, and for a modern capital to mostly shut down its bars and venues in the early hours of the morning is a childish way to treat adults, and it holds our nightlife economy back. 

We should treasure our artists, poets, and musicians: they have contributed more to the richness of our life and to our economy than most of us can ever hope to. They deserve a chance to succeed without living in poverty, and ideally, a lot of platforms to do so, too.

Like open air stages, city-centre festivals, and places where they’ll be put in front of tourists, once they return. Limiting busking is broadly counterproductive; we should encourage it, not seek to license it (though perhaps it should have a volume limitation). 

State artistic support should not be limited to the traditionally ‘highest forms of art’. Many of our pop, rock and hip-hop acts are more successful than our orchestras and classical musicians, and they receive a fraction of the backing. As they grow, they deserve to be assisted, not only in addition, but arguably in preference to those who currently get the vast bulk of funding.

Finally – and an aside from the above, really – maybe as audiences we can learn to value what we’re seeing just a little bit more, and watch absent our phones, our loud conversations, and with a respect for how special live entertainment is. After all, we can all appreciate that now, surely?

All of these things come with rewards, both intrinsic and more broad: a better tourism scene, a lively arts scene, affordable entertainment and equitable payment.

Let’s hope, in amongst the endless delaying of gigs and shutting down of venues, we take our chance, on our return, to improve.

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