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Ireland lockdown: “A long winter lies ahead”

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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#ThisIsWhoWeAre: Irish National Awareness Week begins

The Events Production Industry Covid-19 Working Group (Epic) in the Republic of Ireland has declared a ‘National Awareness Week’ to highlight the plight of the events production sector during the coronavirus shutdown.

Epic, launched earlier this year, represents 3,500 full-time and 15,000 part-time Irish events workers, the vast majority of whom have been out of work since 12 March. The National Awareness week runs from Monday 14 to Sunday 20 September, and encourages the public to support the cause using the hashtag #ThisIsWhoWeAre on social media.

“The non-funded live entertainment sector accounts for 90% of all the tickets sold in Ireland, but does not have access to Arts Council [of Ireland] funding,” reads a statement shared by organisers (h/t Hot Press).

“The wider events sector needs to be supported now, or this industry worth €3.5 billion to the Irish economy will be lost, along with the brilliant SMEs and skilled workforce that has taken decades to cultivate.”

Without support, say organisers, “this industry worth €3.5bn to the Irish economy will be lost”

In a video shared by Epic, production manager Ronan Murphy said the Irish production sector currently “punches way above our weight”, but warned that without government support Irish promoters may be forced to bring in personnel and crew from the UK:

IQ reported last week that Irish live music industry figures are appealing for clarity from the government on when shows may resume. At press time, a maximum of just six people are allowed to attend an indoor live event.


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