Solidarity with artists and events workers on anniversary of industry shutdown – Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Gaeilge, Gaeltacht, Arts and Culture, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, has expressed solidarity on behalf of Sinn Féin with all those in the music, performance and entertainment industries, who have been impacted and left without work for this past year.
He also extended his sympathies to those who have suffered loss and illness as a result of the pandemic.
Teachta Ó Snodaigh said:
"On 12 March 2020 the music, performance and entertainment industries were completely shut down as part of the public health measures to help limit the spread of Covid-19, and they remain shut a year later.
“This has been a remarkably difficult year for everyone, but special acknowledgement needs to be given to those whose livelihoods and whole identity depend on their ability to create, perform and produce the culture which sustains Irish life, and they have been cruelly denied that chance by this virus.
“The impact the year of silence is having will take years to recover from. Not only do we see artists and events workers struggling to pay mortgages and keep a roof over their heads, but mental health is a massive issue in the creative industries.
"Just last month, the results of the Music and Entertainment Alliance of Ireland’s survey showed one in five workers have had to seek mental health assistance as a result of the pandemic and restrictions.
“Sinn Féin has stood with musicians, performers and events workers from day one. We were the first to call for the sector to be given attention as a matter of priority by the Dáil Special Committee on COVID-19.
"I have raised the plight of those forced to sell instruments and equipment to make ends meet numerous times with Minister Catherine Martin in the Dáil.
“We also set out a clear plan for Government to provide a Hardship Fund as far back as October, in our Alternative Budget for Rebuilding Our Arts, to help the most vulnerable in the arts and commercial events to pay their bills and stop the threat of homelessness hanging over them.
"While we welcome that €50 million is finally being allocated specifically to support businesses in the industry, we fear those most in need continue to be left behind, especially with the minimum threshold of €20,000 turnover to apply for the new Music and Entertainment Business Assistance Scheme.
“There is real worry that the money announced will not even reach those it’s intended for until society is already starting to reopen in several months’ time, and that will be too little, too late for those struggling right now.
“Now is the time to appreciate and acknowledge the unique hardship faced by our cultural workers and to help alleviate that pain. It is they who have kept us going with the music and the laughter through all this, and Sinn Féin will continue to demand they be recognised for that.”