- 26 Jan 22
Vinny Casey, renowned venue manager for The Workman's Club and artist in his own right, looks back at how the past two years of Covid lockdowns as impacted the music and entertainment industry for Hot Press.
The past two years have been devastating to the creative industries - there’s no other way to describe it. An entire sector’s livelihood ripped out from under it in a heartbeat.
The financial stress, the worry about the future and the lack of direction in our lives have all taken their toll on everyone. But for me, the uncertainty has been the most difficult part. At each stage we didn’t know what was going to happen over the coming weeks. In that climate, it’s just impossible to plan for anything.
For an industry full of people who organise things for a living — an industry of problem solvers and time keepers, an industry of people who plan events down to the smallest details — we were plunged into a world where none of that could be done with any level certainty of the future.
Prior to the pandemic, postponing or cancelling a show was something that was avoided at all costs. It was a big, big deal if a show couldn’t go ahead. Every avenue possible would be explored in order to make the show happen.
Only after every logistical road was gone down and there was absolutely nothing more that could be done would a show finally be cancelled or postponed. It always felt like a defeat, it was always a tough day. Over the past two year those days happened all the time, and the feeling of defeat never grew easier.
For my neck of the industry; music venues, the pandemic arrived with almost immediate effect. I’ll never forget telling my colleagues that I think we have to close The Workman’s Club for a whole TWO WEEKS until this Coronavirus thing goes away. This was early 2020. If only we knew, almost two years later we’d still be there. The creative industries are different in a lot of ways to other industries.
I think more than other industries, people within this sector see their profession as being more than just their job and more of an extension of who they are. It's a part of how they see themselves as people and how they make sense of their place in the world. So taking this away doesn’t just take away their livelihood, it takes away a part of their identity, and oftentimes this can be the most difficult part to deal with.
However now that it seems this nightmare is finally, hopefully over and done with, and as this industry climbs back onto its feet, battered and bruised and shines again, it's not those terrible feelings that I’ll look back at from this pandemic. What I will always remember for the rest of my life is an industry full of people coming together in a time of great hardship and standing up for one another.
So many great collectives have been formed, so many great campaigns have been run throughout these past two years to highlight the plight of an industry decimated by the pandemic. People coming together to help each other through such a tough time has been truly inspiring to watch.
EPIC, The Live Venue Collective, Give Us The Night have fought tooth and nail to soften the blow of the sector’s closure. Organisations like Minding Creative Minds have stepped up to look after the people finding it toughest and suffering through these hard months. This is what I’ll remember; the people who stood up and stood behind each other. It has been truly inspiring to experience.
Now it looks like we’re finally out the other end of this thing and we can only hope that it stays that way. We are battered and bruised but we are not defeated. Cultures have always been defined by the art that they produce in Ireland we’ve never had any shortage of great art that pushes boundaries and moves us forward as a society. For all the hardship that these past two years have brought, I believe the Irish appetite to experience art in all its forms will never diminish.
- Minding Creative Minds services can now be contacted by texting ‘Hi’ to 087 369 0010 for SMS & WhatsApp Support (standard rate applies) with a qualified psychotherapist / counsellor.
Read Laura McCabe, artist manager for Jawdropper, recount her own experiences of Covid restrictions and mindfulness coach Ben Glover's recollections here.