- 09 Oct 20
The Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland (MEAI) has issued a budget submission – accompanied by a campaigning video – which seeks wide-ranging legal and financial support from the Government for everyone in the live music and entertainment sector.
Daniel O’Donnell, Mary Black (pictured), Nathan Carter, Danny O’Reilly, Pat Shortt, Mundy – and a host of other music stars – have issued an appeal today to the Government to help the ailing live music industry, which has barely seen a crowd-attended live gig since March, as a result of the COVID-19 clampdown.
The stars – along with others such as Phil Coulter, Tommy Fleming, Mike Denver and Frankie Gavin – have taken part in a video produced by the Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland (MEAI), which aims to put public pressure on the Government to provide additional aid to the industry and to all involved, including road crew, tech support, sound designers and more.
“March 14th 2020 was the day the music died”, says legendary songwriter and performer, Phil Coulter in the appeal video, “The march of Ireland’s unique army of musicians and entertainment professionals ground to an abrupt and unmerciful halt.”
SELLING OFF INSTRUMENTS
In what is an openly campaigning video – the implications of which seem aimed primarily at the Department of Health, the Department of Trade, Enterprise and Employment and the Department of Social Protection – Phil and his fellow stars add to the emotional force of the appeal: “Our industry has been decimated. Gigs in theatres, concert halls, arenas, pubs, dance halls, local and international festivals and the local session have all been shut down.”
And they point out that along with big name musicians, the current crisis in the live entertainment industry has hit other singers, bands, DJs, comedians, sound engineers, lighting engineers, crew, riggers, roadies, promoters, all of whom have “sacrificed their right to work for the greater good of the nation.
The stars also appeal to fans and the general public to support the MEAI’s pre-Budget submission by contacting their local TDs and making a case for help for people in the live entertainment sector.
MEAI has already warned that things are so bad for some in the industry that they are having to sell off their instruments while some may even lose their family homes. The organisation has also found that many members are suffering mental health issues as a result of the shutdown and no work.
Jackie Conboy, one of the founders of MEAI, said of the appeal: “Our members are on the breadline. They haven’t had work since March and now the PUP payment has been reduced and the banks have refused to extend the mortgage break. Unless the Government steps in to help, people are going to be in a drastic situation with some having to sell their equipment or even face the prospect of losing their car, van or family home.”
“Our organisation represents the musicians and entertainers that bring enjoyment in pubs, clubs, theatres up and down the country,” he added. "We are not all household names, but to have this video of icons of the Irish entertainment business support our organisation, it shows the unity and solidarity within the industry during this crisis.”
MEAI, which represents nearly 5,000 people working in live entertainment, is looking for the reinstatement of the full PUP payment, reduced VAT and guarantees on payment breaks for mortgages and bank loans.
They warn that many of their members are in arrears with utility bills while more are dealing with mental health issues as a result of money worries. Some are having to sell their equipment to meet household bills. It is an appeal that, hopefully, will strike home with the government and members of the public alike.
“Since the 12th March 2020, the Music & Entertainment sector has been in lockdown,” the organisation’s budget submission states. "Overnight, diaries were wiped out, upcoming engagements cancelled, and with no roadmap or end in sight, the sector is still in the same lockdown since that date.”
It adds: “Our members are not unemployed but forced not to be employed as a result of COVID-19 guidelines. The Music & Entertainment sector by its very nature relies on audiences and social crowds and settings.”
According to MEAI:
Almost 70 per cent of members depend on the music and entertainment sector for their income
11.5 per cent have utility bills in arrears
One in ten of members are now having to sell essential equipment to cover household expenses
17.4 per cent are dealing with mental health worries as a result of financial stress
The MEAI Pre-Budget Submission is asking the Government for:
• Reinstatement of the PUP at €350 per week, at a single tier, and EWSS at €410 per week until our industry reopens without social distancing.
• Legislation which guarantees Payment Breaks of Mortgages & Loans from Financial Institutions at zero risk to the customer until our industry reopens without social distancing.
• The creation of a Survival Package and Scaffolding support structure for self-employed individuals and businesses until our industry reopens without social distancing.
• Hardship Fund created jointly by Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Department of Arts & Culture and the Arts Council funded by 5 per cent of the Arts Council's overall budget.
• The group is also calling for the extension of the current Taskforce created by the Minister for Arts to examine current practices and develop an inclusive strategy of the funded and commercial arts sectors.
• MEAI is also seeking a reduced VAT rate of 9 per cent for the music and entertainment sector, examination of high vehicle insurance costs and a review of the criteria for Arts Council funding.
Watch the MEAI campaign video below: