- 04 Jan 21
In a statement issued today, MEAI have argued that music was the first industry to be closed, and the worst hit overall, with a solid 300 days out of work for many, as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.
The Music and Entertainment Society of Ireland (MEAI) has issued a statement calling for more government help for musicians and those who work with them.
"Over 5,000 musicians and road crew will be without work for 300 days on Tuesday (Jan 5) because of COVID-19 Lockdowns and as a result, many have left the entertainment industry to find work elsewhere,” a statement issued on behalf of the society today says.
The music and live events industry was the first to close – and will be the last to re-open, the statement argues.
“March 13th was the day the music died in Ireland,” Jackie Conboy of MEAI stated, "and it has been the sound of silence ever since, even over Christmas. It truly was a Silent Night.”
Dave Brown of the band Picture House has also spoken about the difficulties experienced by musicians.
“It has been an absolute wipe-out for the music business,” he said. "As it has gone on you have seen people forced to sell their prized guitars and prized drum kits and cars.
"There are five guys in the band,” he said referring specifically to Picture House. “That is five families depending on that business – and it is all gone.”
While Government has provided universal supports for other industries affected by COVID-19, the statement claims, the music and entertainment industry has been forced to compete with other sectors for funding.
MEAI now want the Government to look at the society's proposal for a special grant for everyone in the live entertainments industry.
“They did not offer universal support to those most affected in the industry,” Jackie Conboy said.
MEAI points out that no other industry has had 300 continuous days of lockdown.
"There has been minimal moments and fleeting glimpses of work or opportunity during the summer,” the statement says, "but nothing that would even hint at the reopening of an industry.
"Other industries – such as hospitality and retail – have had re-openings over recent months but the music industry, which includes everyone from Hozier and Kodaline to Christy Moore and Daniel O’Donnell, has never been allowed to re-open."
The argument is made that the spectre of emigration is threatening the future of the industry.
“People are being forced to leave this industry and take up other employment so they can pay their bills and feed their family," Jackie Conboy added. "They are being forced to do this due to Government restrictions. If the Government would offer meaningful universal support then these workers would not have to leave.”
There is a fear, the statement says, that if this trend continues, the music and entertainment industry will be left considerably diminished by the time it is allowed to re-open.
This, MEAI believes, will have a negative impact on the daily life of Irish society, with tourism, weddings, pub and nightlife, entertainment and socialising all suffering.
The Association is advocating a special COVID Music & Entertainment grant.
"This would offer automatic universal assistance in recognition of the plight, hardship and struggles being felt by musicians and others most affected by Government restrictions,” the statement says.
The music and live events industry supports over 35,000 jobs and contributes over €3.5 billion to the economy, the statement concludes.