Minister guilty of neglect with our music and events sector under threat - Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Gaeilge, Gaeltacht, Arts and Culture Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, warned that Irish music, entertainment and live events are exposed to a “serious threat” as Britain reopens early, attracting talent and investment away from Ireland, and putting our artists, venues and workers at a severe disadvantage.
The Dublin South Central TD made these comments as he slammed the response from Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin, to his parliamentary question asking if she had conducted any research or preparation to deal with the potential harms facing our music and events industry.
In her written response, she said:
“I have not conducted research into the issue raised by the Deputy and the potential for such impacts is not immediately evident.”
Speaking this morning, Teachta Ó Snodaigh said:
“We are already hearing stories of musicians and entertainment workers leaving our shores to find work in Britain where they see opportunities, and that means a drain of talent from our shores.
“That the Minister responded to this with no plan except to propose skilled arts workers here should 'upskill' is frankly insulting.
“All artists and entertainers are hearing here is that their PUP will be cut.
“They look to Britain where, not only will the whole sector be reopening on May 17, but innovative concerts using Covid-testing, as seen in March in Barcelona, will be trialled in Britain as early as this weekend with a near-normal concert for 5,000 planned for Liverpool on 2 May.
“Meanwhile, we have no roadmap, no indication of when concerts might start up again, aside from the vague commitment given by the Minister yesterday to trialling indoor and outdoor events at some point.
“At least this marks a welcome change from when I specifically asked her the night before if she had given any consideration to organising creative events using testing, distancing or limited numbers, and she had no response.
“If work was underway on similar events before yesterday’s announcement, it is bizarre that she did not mention it when asked directly in the Dáil, but there is a chance that planning is only starting now, meaning events here remain unlikely until weeks or even months after they take place across the water.
“While Irish artists will no doubt welcome the chance to work in a reopened Britain, many may choose not to return, and that also means our venues and production crews will lose income to their competitors in England.
“These are workers and businesses who are on their knees as things stand, after being strung along for over a year with the promise of additional supports for the arts and live events.
“It is utterly scandalous that of the €50 million they were promised in Live Events funding in Budget 2021, only €1 million has actually been spent.
"At that rate we will be lucky to still have a live events/entertainment sector when we finally reopen.
“We need the government to take the threats to music and events in this country seriously, and actually start to deliver in terms of both funding and ambition.”