- 29 Jul 21
The organisers of Electric Picnic have written to the Taoiseach, Micheal Martin, the Tanaiste Leo Varadkar, and the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly – as well as other Ministers and advisers – strongly making the case for allowing Ireland's biggest festival go ahead in September.
Promoters Festival Republic and MCD have outlined plans which would see Electric Picnic taking place as scheduled in September this year – if they get the Government go-ahead.
Hot Press has seen correspondence – sent on behalf of Festival Republic and MCD Productions to the Taoiseach Micheal Martin, the Tanaiste Leo Varadkar and the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin, as well as other Ministers and advisers – which aims to persuade the authorities that September 24-26’s Electric Picnic should proceed as a full-capacity event, but with enhanced COVID safety measures.
The letter, signed by Justin Green of Wide Awake Communications, says that the proposed measures “would resemble the regulations applicable to indoor hospitality, the rules governing international travel and the protocols implemented at live events currently underway throughout Europe, within the UK and the USA.”
They would include but not be limited to the following:
1. No restriction for those fully vaccinated 14 days prior to show date.
2. Testing for those who have had single vaccination.
3. No entry to those who are not vaccinated.
4. Registration for Dept of Health contact tracing.
5. Event Management Plan implementing extensive health and safety requirements.
The call comes in the wake of a strong statement from Minister Catherine Martin, which emphasised how important it is now, to get the live music industry fully back up and running.
In a letter addressed to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, reported by the Irish Times yesterday, Minister Martin argued that the live entertainment and music sector is in danger of collapsing following prolonged restrictions.
She told the Minister for Health that a clear plan for the return of live music is needed and called for “active engagement” on how to reopen the sector, using digital Covid certificates or some form of Covid-19 testing.
The proposal originally tabled by Festival Republic and MCD, in an email on July 22, had suggested Electric Picnic as one of three pilot events. While that less ambitious proposal has been overtaken by events, and in particular by the apparent willingness on the part of the Government to approve an increase in attendance at major GAA fixtures in Croke Park, it makes a number of salient points about the promoters' approach to the challenges of Covid.
“Given our unique position as international promoters currently staging ‘living with COVID’ live events worldwide (Lollapalooza USA, Latitude UK etc.), we have gained first-hand knowledge and experience in safely running many large scale COVID pilot events and festivals,” Festival Republic and MCD say in the letter. “In doing so, we have implemented robust protocols which reflect both best international practice, whilst also incorporating any lessons-learned as we move forward with our events.
“We believe this is now an opportune time to progress to the next stage in the reopening of the Irish live entertainment events sector, having been currently mandated to close now for over 500 days. Last week, the British Grand Prix took place with an attendance of 140,000 spectators 70% of whom camped for 3 days,” they continue in the letter, written in advance of the Latitude Festival in the UK, which was attended by Hot Press. “This weekend, various UK Festivals will take place with full pre-pandemic capacity in attendance. Northern Ireland is planning to reopen next month with Belfast's Belsonic and Custom House Square events scheduled to take place from late August onwards.”
They point to “the Government’s enormous success in the vaccination roll-out programme, which plans to have 2.9 million people fully vaccinated and 400,000 with first-dose vaccine in the Republic by the 10th of September" as another huge positive to be acknowledged.
In their latest letter to Minister Catherine Martin, they make the point that "The staging of the Electric Picnic Music Festival scheduled to take place at Stradbally County Laois from the 24th to the 26th of September 2021, involves extensive and time-sensitive pre-planning."
There is little point, in other words, in a positive decision from Government in four weeks time.
In the latest correspondence to the Government, which is addressed to six Ministers and copied to Catherine Martin, they make a direct appeal in relation to the wider future of the live music and events industry.
"As the only sector fully closed by mandate for over 500 days," the letter says, "we were the first to close and now left last to reopen - currently without any sector plan. As the Minster (Catherine Martin) outlined this morning ‘live music sector in danger of collapse’ – we now need your urgent help to ensure this does not happen."
The letter ends with a request that the proposal be taken to the next Cabinet meeting for urgent consideration.
Read Hot Press' extensive interview with Minister Catherine Martin from our July 2021 issue here.