- 07 May 21
As part of our special feature on the impact of Covid-19 on the Irish music industry, Derek Turner, a member of the Live Venue Collective, shares his experiences, and looks to the future...
Live Venue Collective
How has the impact of Covid-19 affected you and your business?
Business came to a shuddering halt in March 2020 and put five full-time and nine part-time staff out of work, with immediate effect. Nobody could have realised at the time quite how devastating this would be and how long it would go on for.
What is the worst aspect of it all for you?
The sound of silence, the lack of artistic content and creative people around me, and not knowing when it will end. You also have to factor in the financial difficulties around the prolonged closure, and how it affects quality of life for you and your family.
Did you have to let staff go?
Everybody had to be let go. We are blessed with wonderful staff, and having nothing to offer them for their loyalty and endeavour was a bitter pill to swallow.
People with high rent or with large borrowings have been worst hit. How have you been?
Hanging on by our fingernails. Like all proper music venues, you are constantly looking to improve the experience for the artist and the ticket holder, so we were always reinvesting in the infrastructure. Especially from 2018 on, as the music scene in Ireland was definitely on the upswing, and standards were at the highest I have ever seen in terms of production and customer expectation.
Some people have been finding it hard to survive. Is that something you’ve encountered?
I see and hear it every day. Financial stability is not a term you would normally use when describing artists, musicians, sound engineers, lighting designers, writers, stage managers, promoters etc.
Music is a people business – how has the loss of contact with staff, colleagues or others in the business affected you?
It has been difficult for everybody in my industry, but I am glad to say there is a resilience among most that I have encountered. The music business is not for the faint-hearted, and dealing with disappointment and adversity is part and parcel of this industry.
Were you in a position to try anything new or different?
Thankfully I got involved with the Live Venue Collective in August 2020. Many of us who had known of each other for years from a distance were brought together in adversity, and it has been – and will be in the future – a very positive result for the Irish music industry. We engaged with the Department Of Culture and lobbied for recognition as grassroots cultural spaces, and positive contributors to the economy through our programming of music, comedy, art, storytelling, poetry and much more.
Mental health has been a huge issue for a lot of people involved in music. How has your experience been in that regard?
The first few months of lockdown were relatively easy to handle, as the weather was good and there was a bizarre novelty factor to it – despite the horror unfolding around the world. Eventually, the reality of the situation and the prolonged closure and financial issues grate at you. Staying positive is something you need in this business. The Live Venue Collective, has been a very valuable sounding board in terms of how to survive all this. I am hugely grateful to my LVC companions as we navigate the unknown together.
How important is it to you to get back to work?
Music has been my life for all of my life, so it goes without saying that I am very eager to turn that venue door key soon.
Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future?
I am very optimistic about the future and in particular our Irish artists. I really hope that when venues and events are reopened, that our audiences will wake up to the immense talent we have on these shores. I would love our emerging artists to fill our rooms around the country.
I also think the Live Venue Collective will help consolidate a platform for Irish and international acts to come and stand on our stages, in the knowledge that Ireland sits proudly amongst the very best in the world.
'Music Industry in Ireland: Where To Next?' is a special feature in the current issue of Hot Press, running to over 20 pages, featuring music industry professionals as well as artists including Moya Brennan, Jess Kav, Luka Bloom, Fia Moon, Kneecap, Gavin Glass, Mick Flannery, King Kong Company, Mary Coughlan, Rosie Carney and many more.