Artists and event workers must be sufficiently supported, 300 days on - Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Arts & Culture, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, has reiterated his call for hardship funding to be provided to struggling artists and event workers, who have now been out of work for over 300 days since the industry was closed on 13 March 2020.
The Dublin South Central TD has urged the government, in particular, to consider the proposals submitted by the Music & Entertainment Alliance of Ireland (MEAI) as a matter of urgency.
The Alliance, which represents almost 5,000 workers, submitted a proposal for a special COVID Music & Entertainment Grant to the Department for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media at the start of December, but Minister Catherine Martin has yet to deliver on her promise to support those most in need.
Teachta Ó Snodaigh highlighted that while many sectors of the economy had been temporarily reopened before Christmas and now face into yet another lockdown period and will require additional supports, the music and events sectors have been in continuous lockdown since March with no support.
Teachta Ó Snodaigh said:
“The music and live events industry employs 35,000 workers and provides over €3.5 billion to our economy, yet they’ve been left out of vital funding supports including the COVID Recovery Support Scheme (CRSS) and Enterprise Support Grant.
“For months now, Sinn Féin has been calling for a Hardship Fund be set up for Arts, Creative Industry and Events Workers, to make sure those who work in the sector are properly supported.
“Instead of listening to the industry and Sinn Féin, the government made big announcements about 'support' schemes that took months to become available, depended on a reopening that never came, and pitted struggling artists against one another in competitions for funding, with those most in need losing out.
“The Music Industry Stimulus Package was particularly shambolic and lacked transparency, with big names awarded multiple grants, one without even having applied.
"At the same time, many less successful artists who applied were rejected without explanation, and when I asked the Minister about this through parliamentary questions, we received no clarity whatsoever.
“Musicians and entertainers need a survival package, not survival of the fittest. We owe so much as a nation to our cultural workers, from the impact they have on our tourism sector to the joy they bring us in the pubs, at our weddings, and at the festivals.
“We all want to get back to enjoying music and entertainment again, but there won’t be any to return to if workers are forced to sell their instruments and leave the industry behind because they can’t get by. The government needs to act now to make sure that doesn’t happen.”