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The Live Nation-affiliated promoter says the government has to provide the industry with more than a roadmap after its prolonged shutdown
By IQ on 19 Aug 2021
MCD Productions boss Denis Desmond says the Republic of Ireland’s live sector is “frustrated, disappointed and angry,” by the prolonged shutdown of the industry.
Industry representatives held a two-hour meeting with ROI’s minister for arts yesterday (18 August) but still, no date was set for the return of live concerts and cultural events.
“There are 35,000 people who are employed in the sector who haven’t worked in 525 days and it’s terrible,” Desmond tells IQ. “It’s very hard on people who have families and mortgages to pay. The government support is a small amount of money. A lot of people are struggling – not only financially but mentally.”
In comparison, the UK’s live industry has been fully open for a month and Scotland lifted most restrictions on 9 August.
Festival Republic director Melvin Benn told RTÉ’s News at One that the failure to allow live music events to return, including Electric Picnic (co-promoted with MCD), is “unnecessary and wrong,” given Ireland’s high vaccination rate.
He went on to say that Ireland’s situation contrasted with “political leadership” in other countries, including the UK. “It isn’t a different virus [in Ireland].”
“What we really need is a full reopening and a government-backed insurance scheme, similar to the UK”
The promoters’ comments come after their event, Electric Picnic, was denied a licence by the local council on the grounds of the current restrictions.
“We’re still looking at the options and we have written to the government asking why they made the decision. We’ve been assured that we’ll get an answer by next Monday so we’ll wait until we get a reply to review what happens next,” says Desmond.
The government has also promised a roadmap for reopening by the end of next week but it won’t be a silver bullet for the industry, says the MCD boss.
“What we really need is a full reopening and a government-backed insurance scheme, similar to the UK,” he tells IQ. “The most important thing about the UK’s scheme is that the insurance package is valid for 12 months because Covid is not going away. We’ve got to learn to live with it but there needs to be support for businesses.”
Desmond believes the lack of support for Ireland’s live music industry – and other markets in Europe – is down to a lack of understanding. “The reality is, there is little understanding of the contribution this industry makes to the economy and to the wellbeing of people,” he says.
The Republic of Ireland’s perceived lack of understanding is likely exacerbated by a lack of representation in political spheres. It was recently revealed that minister for arts Catherine Martin – whose plan to reopen the sector was snubbed by government – is not yet on the cabinet committee on Covid-19.
The Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland (MEAI) says the lack of representation is “disastrous” for the industry.
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