- 02 Jul 21
Criticism of the Government decision to delay the re-opening of the hospitality sector, on the advice of NPHET – whose doomsday modelling of potential deaths seems to have left politicians feeling that they had little or no alternative – has crossed over into the music arena.
A stark note was struck this morning in a statement issued by the Music & Entertainment Association of Ireland (MEAI) – which represents 5,000 musicians, entertainers, stage crew, etc. – who fear now that what they are calling a Summer of Silence lies ahead.
"Musicians and entertainers were furious after Government guidelines announced in May that there would be no ‘lIve music’ or ‘loud music’ come June,” the statement said. “But they were clinging to the hope that these blanket rules would be eased for the summer months.”
Now that hope has been put on hold. The music and entertainment sector is closely aligned to the tourism and hospitality sector, which are both seasonal in their nature, the statement added.
"The summer months are where most workers in the sector make the largest part of their annual income," Matt McGranaghan, spokesperson for MEAI, explained. "They make hay while the sun shines, which helps see them through leaner months from September to November.
“Musicians, entertainers and crew had been banking on getting some work in the summer season,” he added, "to pay off mounting debts and also to help cover the cost of back-to-school in September, as well as looking towards Christmas, but this hope is very much fading following the Government’s announcement.”
The entertainment industry is fast approaching 500 days of lockdown and MEAI claims that out of the €50m support package announced nine months ago, only €1m has been spent.
"Sector specific supports have taken so long to be created due to concerns and excuses given that such supports will be discriminatory to other sectors,” the statement added, "yet the Government is happy to discriminate between vaccinated and unvaccinated."
The statement also claimed that “The €14m MEBAS scheme was announced in March, but the earliest payments are expected to be made in late July or August."
There are issues for the Department of employment and Social Protection to address, with MEAI also pointing out that the most vulnerable workers in the sector, who are on lowest PUP payment of €203, will be classified as unemployed from September onwards.
“The delay in getting support to workers in the sector,” Matt McGranaghan stated, "means that most grant support is already spent on borrowed money needed to survive the past 16 months of not being allowed to work. MEAI had to seek help from charities at Christmas to help get support to workers in the sector who were struggling to make ends meet.”
Once again raising the issue of musicians & live entertainment workers who face endless obstacles in accessing support schemes as their industry continues to be closed. The government must continue to support ALL those who have lost income & employment due to the pandemic. @pb4p pic.twitter.com/fBW96pqVhW
— Richard Boyd Barrett (@RBoydBarrett) July 2, 2021