- 30 Jul 21
Ireland took one step closer to a return to normality today, with a statement from the Minister in charge of the arts and culture, Catherine Martin, that she aims to make a roadmap for a return to live events a priority for the Government. Whether that will come in time for this year’s Electric Picnic remains to be seen...
The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media has announced her intention to work closely with Government colleagues towards developing a re-opening plan for the sector. She has also confirmed two key changes to existing schemed to support the live entertainment sector.
As readers of Hot Press will know, to support the industry through what is an extraordinarily difficult period the Minister has to date allocated €61.5m for a suite of measures designed to sustain and support the sector. These include:
- €25m Live Performance Support Scheme
- €14m Music and Entertainment Business Support Scheme
- €11.5m Event Sector Covid Support Scheme (funded via transfer from D/ETE Vote)
- €5m Local Authority Performance Support Scheme
- €5m Capital Support Scheme
- €1m Patricks Day Festival
In a statement issued this morning, Minister Martin reaffirmed her commitment to the full return of all live entertainment at the earliest possible date, having regard to public health developments, and also announced the following measures:
- An extension to the deadline for using the LPSS (Live Performance Support Scheme) funding to end October, to take account of the fact that restrictions remain in place for the live events sector.
- A new strand of funding for the MEBAS (Music and Entertainment Business Assistance Scheme) for businesses with turnovers of between €15,000 and €20,000. This stream will provide grants of €1,500 for businesses who had business costs of at least €2,000 between 1 April 2020 and 31 May 2021. The portal for applications will open during August and stay open until the end of September.
In addition to these adaptations to existing schemes, the statement confirms that Minister Martin is working with her Cabinet colleagues to provide a greater level of certainty for the sector around a reopening plan at the earliest possible date.
To this end, and following the opening of indoor hospitality which she has led on with An Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar, T.D., she has written to the Minister for Health and the Expert Working Group on Rapid Testing to establish if the Digital Covid Certificate, PCR testing and/or Antigen testing could play a role in the reopening of the live entertainment sector.
Commenting on the sector more generally, Minister Martin was realistic in her assessment of the challenges facing everyone involved.
“I am acutely aware of the devastating impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the live entertainment sector,” she said. "The things we love and dearly miss like live concerts, plays, festivals etc. involve congregation and unfortunately COVID thrives in that environment. This has necessitated significant restrictions on live entertainment to protect public health. I have engaged with numerous stakeholders in the sector and listened and understand how distressing this extended period of inactivity has been for everyone involved in the live entertainment industry. Darkened theatres, silent venues, crews and artists out of work is something I hope to bring to an end and is my number one priority.”
The Minister added that, while the suite of supports Government has provided are welcome, she fully understands that what the sector really needs is a clear path to reopening.
“In launching The Path Ahead the Government confirmed its commitment to developing a clear roadmap for a return of activities in the hardest hit sectors, including culture and arts,” she said. "Government has already taken significant steps towards the full reopening of the economy and society, building on the acceleration in the vaccine roll-out.”
The Minister will be working with Government colleagues throughout August, to chart a clear roadmap for the re-opening of the sector.
Minister Martin added: “Ireland’s vaccination take-up rate has been hugely encouraging, and this gives us cause to hope that we can welcome full audiences back in the near future. As the vaccination programme continues, I will be working with Minister Donnelly and colleagues to ascertain whether other measures, such as testing, could accelerate re-opening, and depending on the public health situation more generally, it is my hope that Government will be in a position to give a clear signal on a re-opening plan by the end of August.”
The Minister also noted that the new Events Sector Covid Support Scheme she launched recently, in conjunction with her colleague the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD, will open for applications next Wednesday August 4th for applications. The scheme aims to support businesses supplying services to the events and arts sectors via a contribution to business costs.