- 14 Oct 20
In what was the biggest budget ever signed off by an Irish government, Non-Funded Commercial Events & the Independent Entertainment Sector were recognised as a separate sector to Funded Arts Industry for the first time – a hugely welcomed development for the live music and entertainment sector in Ireland.
The music lobbying group, EPIC, has broadly welcomed yesterday’s announcement in Budget 2021 of supports for the live music and entertainment industry, which have been occasioned by the devastating impact of Covid-19 restrictions on the sector. In a statement issued today, the group hailed the fact that "the non-funded commercial events and entertainment sector has been recognised as separate to the funded Arts Industry for the first time" as a major step forward.
“A €50 million funding allocation, given the right circumstances, will have a very positive impact on the return of safe live events in 2021,” the statement said.
"EPIC asked the Government for immediate and concrete support to scaffold this viable industry until it is able to safely return to capacity in all its glory,” the statement continued. "EPIC sees measures such as decreases in the VAT rate, clarification that PUP recipients can work occasional days without losing their payment, support for grass root areas such as musical societies, drama societies, stage schools and dance schools as big steps in the right direction for reopening.
"It is very clear that the Government has listened and engaged with us and while we welcome the package announced, EPIC do have concerns.”
The group, which represents music industry professionals, including events organisers, promoters, technicians, crew and more has spelled out concerns about some aspects of the innovative package of supports outlined in budget 2021. The supports are designed as a targeted measure for music professionals and companies, who have been prevented from working by the restrictions on live entertainment mandated by Government to fight the spread of Covid-19.
"Questions arise as to why the CRSS scheme excludes many of EPICs members,” the statement said adding the following bullet points:
• "EPIC has always stated the importance of specialist SME businesses. There is nothing in this budget for these key cornerstones of the live industry, some are now just days away from collapse and immediate funds are needed to save them.
•"These businesses have had little or no income since March and it will be well into 2021 before they start to trade again. These special SME’s include:
– Audio and lighting suppliers, staging, specialist health & safety consultants, specialist security, providers of fencing, sanitation, site services, power, specialist public relations and marketing companies plus a myriad of other critical suppliers to this diverse industry.
• "Without these suppliers, there are no concerts, no festivals, no events, no outdoor shows. The very welcome €50M to the department of Culture will go unused if there is no SMEs to work at these shows.
• "The CRSS is not open to them as they do not have public-facing businesses.
• "Restricting applications to Level 3 and above prohibit many of them who cannot operate regardless of the level."
EPIC have underlined the prolonged nature of the devastation wrought by Covid-19, pointing out that it has been 215 days since employers, workers and freelancers from viable operations in the Live Entertainment and Events Industry were mandated to close. All the evidence now suggests that the impact will last well into 2021.
"The Non-Funded Event industry supports over 35,000 jobs,” they said, "contributes over €3.5 billion Euro to the economy and in excess of 3 million annual bed nights to the wider tourism sector."
Hopefully 2021 will tell a more optimistic story, but for now at least, a significant level of progress has been made.