- 22 May 21
The Event Industry Alliance of Ireland – an umbrella organisation for eight different groups operating in the events industry in Ireland – is seeking a road map for the speedy return of all forms of events, along with hugely improved supports for businesses that have been decimated by enforced closures as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.
The Event Industry Alliance of Ireland has written to the Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar, seeking an urgent meeting to address the precarious position of companies and professionals working in the events business in Ireland.
Leo Varadkar is the current Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the leader of Fine Gael.
The Event Industry Alliance is a recently formed, cross-industry body, representing eight affiliated groups – including EPIC (the Event Production Industry Covid 19 Working Group), Aoife (the Association of Irish Festivals and Events) and VOPF (the Venue Operators and Promoters Forum).
The letter is signed by Dan McDonnell, Chairman of the Event Industry Alliance of Ireland. McDonnell is the Managing Director of the events management company, Neon Agency.
"It is with very great concern, that I write to you as Chair of the Event Industry Alliance of Ireland who represent over 35,000 people across the entire Irish Events sector,” the letter, which Hot Press has seen, begins. "After 14 months of forced government closure, without any meaningful supports we urgently require immediate emergency action from you and fellow Ministers.”
While significant commitments have been made through the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, there are elements in the industry which these do not cover.
"Many of the supports mentioned including the still undistributed €50m Commercial Live Entertainment Fund do not apply to the vast majority of businesses within this industry," McDonnell adds. "Despite been announced as an emergency fund by Minister Paschal Donohoe seven (7) months ago (Budget October 2020), not one Euro of this €50m fund for the live commercial sector has made its way or been distributed to businesses within the sector.
The letter makes the point that individual constituent organisations have separately been in touch with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
"We now again contact you directly, as a united voice,” the letter proclaims, before going on to set out a long list of grievances with the way the wider events industry has been treated since the onset of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
"We are extremely frustrated and disappointed at the unfair and unequal treatment of our member organisations, within The Event Industry Alliance,” the letter says. "Our Industry was the first to close and will be the last to open, many months after the hospitality, retail and other industries.”
In the letter, Dan McDonnell acknowledges the sympathetic responses that have been offered to the various organisations, when approaches were made to different Departments. However, it goes on to bemoan the lack of what it describes as 'real, meaningful action’.
While the €50 million Live Performance Support Scheme is also acknowledged in the letter, the point is made very strongly that this will be of assistance only to some sectors of the industry, with the non-arts elements losing out.
"The Event Management companies, SME’s, event industry suppliers and event organisers not specifically having arts or culture as part of their proposed event (as per the requirements of the LPSS) such as Trade Fairs and Exhibitions, Marketing & Public Relations, lighting & Sound companies, along with many others do not qualify for any of the LPSS supports,” Dan McDonnell says.
The letter is also critical of the Small Business Assistance Scheme for Covid.
McDonnell argues that "the expanded SBACS scheme amounts to tokenism. It will help the smaller operators, but will do nothing for the many companies with larger turnover and staff numbers.”
The letter goes on to demand that the events industry should be treated on a par with the hospitality industry, via an instrument like the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS).
"A weekly payment that amounts to €350 per week or a small one off payment will do little to actively support the majority of businesses we represent, many of whom with pre COVID turnover from €500k to €50m and beyond proving they are substantial net contributors,” the letter states.
"No other sector including Gardai, Teachers, Civil Servants, TD’s, Ministers or the media would tolerate or accept forced closure for over 14 months and (being) left to live on €350 per week in order to protect everyone else, while the rest of the country continues with their lives.”
The letter strikes an emotional note, when it refers to the desperate position many in the industry have been placed in by the forced closures.
"Our members have been living week to week since 12th March 2020, many forced to sell equipment, borrow money, have not met house repayments and have repossessions as a direct result of the pro-longed government forced closure and have substantial mental health issues without adequate supports.
"There is a fundamental misunderstanding that the entire event industry in Ireland simply falls under one category,” the letter continues "This is a very large industry with tens of thousands of people employed and billions of euros in revenue, and spans numerous business types and sizes from small local events to Internationally recognised large scale commercial live events, cutting edge world class business events, summits, exhibitions, trade shows, weddings, event sponsorship activity, as well as outdoor entertainment operators such as funfairs and circuses, and the hundreds of SME’s and suppliers involved in supporting every aspect of this once thriving industry.”
The letter is blunt in pointing out that the business support schemes currently available are inadequate to the needs of the wider industry. The letter also sets out the purpose of the proposed meeting, as the EIA sees it.
"We would ask the meeting be used as a platform to provide us (EIA member organisations),” the letter says, "with the most recent government information including a Road Map for our sector, Department plans and figures for enhanced and meaningful financial support along with supporting scientific evidence to support the continued closure of our sector.
The Event Industry Alliance represents the following organisations from the Irish Event Industry:
• Aoife - Association of Irish Festival and Events
• EIAI - Event Industry Association of Ireland
• EII - Event Industry Ireland
• EPIC - Event Production Industry COVID 19 Working Group
• IEOA - Irish Exhibition Organisers Association
• ISG - Irish Showmens Guild
• WBA - Wedding Band Association
• VOPF - Venue operators and Promoters Forum