- 22 Feb 21
The series of lockdowns ordered by the Government over the past 12 month to combat the spread of the coronavirus has had a hugely disproportionate impact on the live music industry, including musicians, crew and roadies. 20% have had to seek help for mental health, a new report says.
Musicians, entertainers and stage crew are facing into a mortgage and loan crisis as the ban on live shows reaches a year in lockdown, according to a statement issued by Music & Entertainment Association of Ireland (MEAI).
MEAI represents around 5,000 struggling performers, road crew and others. “Workers in our industry are at greater risk of losing their businesses and homes unless systemic payment breaks are reactivated,” the statement added.
The stark warning comes in the wake of a survey carried out by MEAI, which shows that 21.2 per cent of its members are struggling to repay their mortgages; and 39.2 per cent are having trouble repaying their business loans. Meanwhile 58 per cent have problems paying household bills. Some 20 per cent of the membership of MEAI have had to seek help for mental health issues.
NO PAYMENT BREAKS
“The sector is bracing itself,” spokesman Matt McGranaghan stated, "for another year of not being allowed to work with restrictions on numbers for gatherings indoor and outdoor set to go beyond the summer.”
Against that backdrop, MEAI are urging the Government to re-introduce systemic payment breaks to help those who are struggling to meet repayments on loans.
The statement makes the point that the European Banking Authority (EBA) introduced guidelines for widespread payment breaks during the first lockdown in April 2020 which helped over 220,000 people in Ireland.
“The EBA re-activated its guidelines for payments break on the 2nd of December 2020, but Irish banks and the Government declined to avail of the opportunity,” Matt McGranaghan added.
At the time, according to MEAI, the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI) said that Irish banks did not intend to avail of the EBA’s re-activation of relaxed rules and that banks would continue to implement a “case-by-case approach to support those customers adversely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.”
MEAI met with the BPFI in January to discuss why the Irish banks had not reintroduced the payment breaks offered by the EBA.
“We were told that banks didn’t feel the need was there for widespread breaks to be given,” McGranaghan explained. "But not availing of the EBA guidelines means that payment breaks on a case-by-case basis could negatively impact on a person’s credit rating."
The live music and entertainment industry has been under continuous lockdown since the 12th March 2020 and – on the basis of the current plan being discussed by the Cabinet – will be one of the last sectors to reopen. MEAI believes that this is unlikely to happen now until 2022.
The Music & Entertainment Association of Ireland was founded in June 2020 and has almost 5,000 members.