- 25 Feb 21
While insisting that it was currently impossible to put a timeline on the reopening of the live music sector, Minister Martin noted that "this summer, due to the vaccines, will look very different to last summer" – and stated that she would be the first to demand a safe re-opening when the time comes...
Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin TD has stated that "we have to look with optimism to the summer", when queried about the future of outdoor festivals and cultural events in Ireland.
Speaking on Today with Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio this morning, February 25, the Minister acknowledged the disappointment and frustration that many in the hospitality and live music sectors are feeling, at the current lack of a detailed plan or timeline for reopening.
“There had been an expectation of a timeline," the Minister noted. "But the medical advice is that we should not do that – because there are so many moving variables.
“The position is, if we can keep up our efforts up for a few more weeks, by late March the Government will begin examining whether it will be safe to begin easing the restrictions on outdoor gatherings and some sporting activities. By that period, we’d hope that we’d have administered about 1.25 million doses of the vaccine... Having said that, I am nonetheless extremely conscious of the sectors under my remit... which are hurting so badly.
“When it is safe to do so, I will be first out of the traps demanding that safe reopening," she added. "But in the meantime, what needs to be done, and what we did, is to ensure the supports are in place."
The Minister, who sounded energetic and enthusiastic about her brief – while also taking great care not to raise expectations – went on to note how "this summer, due to the vaccines, will look very different to last summer", and stated that "there is optimism there."
Claire Byrne went on to ask Minister Martin about the future of music festivals, pointing out that many festivals are currently selling tickets for events this summer.
The Minister said that she felt "it would be wrong and unfair... to say if the festivals would happen." However, she did again stress that "we have to look with optimism to the summer." While no one could read into this that we can expect things to be back to normal, or anything like it, there is no doubt that the difficulties across the entire live music, entertainment and hospitality sectors are to the forefront of the Minister's – and the Government's – current thinking.
"I've recently launched an Outdoor Public Space Scheme," she resumed. "It’s a new funding scheme to help local authorities open up and create public spaces and facilities for our arts and cultural activities... I’m providing up to €250,000 to each and every local authority in Ireland. I think now, more than ever, not only do we appreciate our arts and our cultural activities, but we appreciate the value of communal spaces for our artists. I hope that this will lead to innovation around our country, in villages, towns and cities. There’s potential there to be transformed into wonderful resources for festivals, for entertainment, for cultural events."