Live events and entertainment sector publish open letter calling on government for immediate support

Live events and entertainment sector publish open letter calling on government for immediate support

The letter has over 600 signatures, from the likes of U2, Hozier, Sinead O’Connor and many more.


The Event Production Industry Covid-19 Working Group (EPIC) has published an open letter calling for immediate support from the government in an effort to avoid facing “decimation and at least a decade of recovery” for the live events and entertainment sector in Ireland.


The letter, published on National Awareness Week for the Live Entertainment and Event Industry in Ireland, has been signed by 600 people involved in the industry, including high-profile bands, musicians, comedians and performers.


A statement accompanying the open letter says that this is the first time in event industry history that “employers, workers and freelancers from viable operations are unable to trade and to work”.


Traditionally, the industry supports 35,000 jobs, provides €3.5 billion for the economy and in excess of three million annual bed nights to the wider tourism sector.


“The commercial non-funded sector has never asked for support before but these are unprecedented times,” the statement reads.


The letter calls on support from the government in the form of:


  • The Immediate reinstatement of the EWSS and PUP payment at €350 per week.

  • Grant funding proportionate to what has been allocated to the Arts Council in 2020.

  • Due consideration to the Commercial Live Events Sector in the Arts and Culture Recovery taskforce established by Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht Catherine Martin TD earlier this month.

All this week, venues have been lighting up red in support of National Awareness Week and EPIC's pre-Budget submission, including the 3Arena, RDS, Aviva Stadium, Croke Park, Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Gaiety Theatre, Olympia Theatre, Dolan's, Róisín Dubh, INEC and the Town Hall Theatre in Galway.

The letter, which can be read in full below, is accompanied by the video, This Is Who We Are, voiced by Stephen James Smith.


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Clip via EPIC Working Group


Open letter from the Live events and entertainment sector


It is now 190 days since the Live Entertainment and Events Industry has been forced to close. The Non-Funded Event Industry supports over 35,000 jobs, contributes over €3.5 billion Euro to the economy and in excess of three million annual bed nights to the wider tourism sector. For the first time in the Event Industry history, employers, workers and freelancers from viable operations are unable to trade and to work. The commercial non-funded sector has never asked for support before but these are unprecedented times. 


The unprecedented and ongoing Covid-19 global pandemic has been as great a disaster for Ireland’s entertainment and hospitality sectors as the 2007/2008 banking crisis was to its construction and financial services industries.


Across literally hundreds of theatres, venues, clubs, festivals and small/large-scale events, the domestic live events and entertainment industry employs in excess of 35,000 full and part-time workers. The vast majority of these highly skilled people haven’t had any employment since 12 March, 2020. Never in the long history of staging live performances and events on this island has there been such a sudden and total cessation of all work and activity.


We were the first industry to shut, and we will most likely be the last one to fully reopen. The non-funded Events Sector accounts for 90% of the five million tickets sold in Ireland each year, and directly contributes over €3.5 billion to the national economy.

It is estimated that for every euro spent on a ticket, an additional €6 is spent in the wider tourist economy (including more than three million hotel bed nights per annum).

We are unique in that we are the only sector completely closed under government mandate; as a result, through absolutely no fault of their own, live entertainment workers currently have little or no employment opportunities.


Up until now, we have been totally ignored and received virtually no government aid. As an impossibly bleak winter approaches, we and our dependents desperately require serious government support to survive. The workers at all levels of this vital sector have no prospects of earning a living in the foreseeable future, so the supports need to be appropriate and unprecedented in order to address the dire financial situation facing almost every single person and business.


If government support doesn’t come then the curtains will close, joy will be lost, the music will fade, the parades will stop, the children’s giddy laughter at the panto will be no more, and the cherished memories created in muddy festival fields will be a thing of the distant past. The non-funded Live Events Sector faces decimation and at least a decade of recovery if not supported immediately with the following asks:


1


- Immediate reinstatement of the EWSS and PUP payment at €350 per week for the highly skilled staff and businesses of the sector until the sector (which is fully closed by government under public health advice) is allowed to return to work.


2


- Grant funding proportionate to what has been allocated to the Arts Council in 2020. The Live Events Sector accounts for 90% of all tickets sold in Ireland, and as such is a far greater employer and contributor to the national economy. We have received little or no grant funding before, but in these exceptional circumstances it is imperative that a scaffolding fund be made available to support the viable businesses of the sector until we can return to work.


3


- While this Task Force was announced by Minister Catherine Martin on 10 September, it is essential that the formation of the members gives due consideration to the Commercial Live Events Sector. This is the sector that manages the largest events in the country, has managed the Papal Visit, The Visit of Barack Obama and The Queen of The United Kingdom. The Commercial Live Events Sector are the experts, the best in class and should receive parity of voice with the state funded sector on the task force.


We are highly skilled professionals, we are essential businesses and services, we are musicians and artists, carpenters and creators, we are stagehands, technicians and experts, we are sounds, lights and visuals, we are tears, laughter and gasps of excitement.


We are the Christmas panto, we are concerts, we are festivals, we are food fairs, we are parades, we are conferences, we are exhibitions, we are theatres, we are dance, we are national celebrations and state visits. We are the best nights of your lives.


We are the creative lifeblood of this country - and a vital part of its economy. We are the dynamic problem solvers who bring the magic to the most difficult of circumstances. Most importantly, we are contributors; we have always given back. In this unprecedented crisis, reluctantly for the first time we must ask: We need government support for our industry and we need it immediately.