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Ireland lockdown: “A long winter lies ahead”

Some of Ireland's key promoters comment on how the country's six-week lockdown could affect its live music industry

By IQ on 26 Oct 2020

3Arena, Dublin, Ireland

3Arena in Dublin is currently closed

Last week, Ireland became the first European country to reimpose a nationwide lockdown following a spike in coronavirus cases.

Under the new level five restrictions, which are due to last until 1 December, residents are required to stay at home and exercise within a 5 km radius.

Music venues, along with other leisure and entertainment businesses, have been forced to close in yet another blow to its live industry.

“Things are quiet. It feels like a long winter lies ahead,” says Fin O’Leary, veteran promoter and co-founder of the recently launched Singular Artists, promoting shows in Ireland and NI. “I’m hoping that Irish industry professionals, artists and venues can find a way to keep going and get through this. It’s the most serious challenge our industry has ever seen.”

Shane Dunne (promoter at MCD Concerts; board member of Epic working group; MD of Irish festival Indiependence) notes that the new restrictions make little difference to an industry that has already shuttered.

“It’s the most serious challenge the industry has ever seen here”

“For the live music sector, level five is no different to the previous three weeks at level three where we couldn’t do anything anyway,” he says.

“Through the work of groups like Epic and others, we have secured a €50 million support package to offset the costs of doing shows at reduced capacity but unfortunately, that is not usable at the moment or for the foreseeable future while we are prevented from doing anything. The industry was the first to close in Ireland in March and we will be the last to reopen.”

In September, the government published a medium-term framework, to be in place until March 2021, outlining the restrictions for each of the five levels.

Levels 3, 4, and 5 – the highest – prohibit gatherings altogether. Under level 2, up to 50 visitors are permitted at organised indoor gatherings and 100 for larger venues with social distancing.

Even at level 1, when the country is at the lowest risk, a maximum of just 100 patrons can attend indoor gatherings, and up to 200 for larger venues.

“The industry was the first to close in Ireland in March and we will be the last to reopen”

“Under this plan there is very little business that can be done for the sector,” says Dunne. “As an industry, we are grateful for the recognition and support that came in the recent budget but now we really do need further engagement with government and in particular our health service to start talking about the safe return of events in 2021.”

Though Ireland’s live industry is potentially restricted until March next year, O’Leary is optimistic about the future and says Singular Artists is busy gearing up for Q3 2021 and onwards.

The promoter has announced its first arena show with Yungblud at 3Arena in November next year and O’Leary says they’re booking a range of shows from 200–15,000 capacity for 2021–2022 and beyond.

“Judging by the state of avails across the country’s theatres and arenas, it’s going to be a very busy second half of 2021 onwards; artists seem to be chomping at the bit to get back out,” O’Leary says.


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