Urgent action needed to help workers in the entertainment and live music industry - Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Arts and Culture, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, has slammed as 'tone-deaf' and 'out of touch' the approach of the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media to calls for support from musicians and events workers who have been struggling since March 2020.
Last week - just as the Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland released figures showing once in four workers in the sector fear homelessness and almost half are struggling to pay their bills - Minister Martin was launching a proposal for celebratory concerts across Europe to mark the end of the pandemic.
In response, Teachta Ó Snodaigh has said:
"Almost a fifth of music and events workers could be forced out of business before this pandemic ends.
"While it is good to be planning for a post-Covid-19 world, I don’t know where the Minister thinks she is going to find musicians to play at her post-Covid bash. At the rate things are going there won’t be anyone left in the music business by then unless she acts now.
"We talk about being back in a second or third lockdown, but it is worth remembering that the music and events industry has been largely locked down continuously since March.
"We have heard plenty of announcements of support packages, but months go by after these announcements and no money reaches those most in need; struggling artists and their families.
"In fact, many of the announcements by the Minister have been unmitigated disasters, from the Live Performance Support Scheme - which depended on a reopening that never happened - through to the Music Industry Support Package where big-name acts got multiple awards - and at least one act who didn’t even apply was awarded funding.
"This happened while those struggling the most got nothing after being made to put their hearts and souls into applications. The Minister still has serious questions to answer over the running of that scheme.
"We in Sinn Féin have been calling for a hardship scheme for artists and entertainment workers for months now, so that workers and their families can pay the bills, pay the mortgage and keep the vehicles and instruments they will need if we want the music industry to return, when that is possible.
"I asked for a meeting with the Minister to discuss ways to keep the sector afloat as far back as September, and it is a disgrace that almost half a year has passed and she has still not found the time to discuss this crisis with the Opposition.
"If the Minister and her Department are serious about wanting to protect workers and those most at need, they must give serious consideration to the Covid Music and Entertainment Grant proposal put forward by MEAI - who represent over 4,000 workers - in early December. €50 million was set aside for the Live Performance Support Scheme that cannot proceed. There is no reason why that money cannot be redirected to help workers in need now."