‘The world can’t stop just because of a pandemic and while we must abide by the restrictions imposed by the Government and NPHET, it doesn't mean that we can’t reinvent ourselves within the new paradigm’.
This is according to Sinead Dunphy of Eventi Management who is determined to bring music and the arts to people of all ages this year, despite the pandemic.
She says that resilience and creativity are to the fore in the entertainment industry and it is these very qualities that will afford it the opportunity to ‘keep going’ despite Covid-19.
She already has plans in place to ensure that gigs like Soul in the City, Cork Folk Festival, and the National Circus Festival of Ireland go ahead this year... and with a live audience, if restrictions allow for that.
“Innovation and resilience is key to where we find ourselves now and we have had to figure it out,” she said.
“But if you scratch the surface in Cork, we are actually very lucky; the Everyman Theatre has been employing actors and directors for the last number of months.
“I am currently working with the Graffiti Theatre Company, it went online very early on in the pandemic, so it has been completely creative and able to roll with the times we find ourselves in.”
Meanwhile, Soul in the City returns to Cork from September 3-5 next and Ms Dunphy is determined to make it a wonderful experience for performers and their fans.
The only festival of its kind in Ireland, Soul in the City presents a diverse and dynamic programme, catering for a wide range of tastes and ages.
“I'm looking at an outdoor tent that will have pods for audience members - it means that people can come to the event together and remain together in a pod throughout,” she continued.
“We are looking at all avenues at the moment and I’m due to speak with people in the HSE soon to discuss in detail how we can do things in a safe and restricted way.
“We are hoping that by September 50 people may be allowed to gather indoors and that outdoor gathering would allow for 100 people, and so our plans are being made with all of that in mind.”
"The event will also be live-streamed and will be available to see outside the venue.
“We will also do a hybrid version of the event whereby we will screen it outside in Christchurch Green,” Ms Dunphy added.
“We are basing everything on the hope that we will have a live audience but if it comes to September and there is no live audience allowed inside then we will make alternative plans, the concert will still go ahead virtually.” She says it is vital now that local artists are employed and paid for their work.
“We want local artists to be paid for their work and be able to return to their employment.”
Eventi Management has invested in technology to enable it to run planned events in a more creative and innovative way but Ms Dunphy also plans to team up with photographer Michael O’Sullivan to stream the gigs live.
The pods, barriers, etc will be hired.
“We are going to need more volunteers of which there is a fantastic ethos in Cork - something I saw during the Choral Festival and the Cork Jazz Festival,” she continued.
“There is a real sense of pride in relation to all of this among Cork people and they want to take ownership of their festivals.
“It’s all about all hands on deck and a little bit of reimagination.
“I would imagine that William Hammond will come up with something wonderful for the Cork Folk Festival at the end of September.
“The Choral Festival takes place next week virtually and the National Circus Festival of Ireland will take place in Tralee in November.
“There is actually a lot more going on in Munster than people realise.” Last month Aiken Promotions announced the cancellation of the Live at the Marquee in Cork for the second year in a row because of Covid-19 restrictions.
As well as the Cork Jazz Festival, Cork Lifelong Learning Festival, the Fiddle Fair in Baltimore, Cork, and Indiependence in Mitchelstown have also been cancelled in 2021 as well as numerous agricultural shows across the region.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner promoter Peter Aiken said it is “very hard to know” what is going to happen this year.
“We are very optimistic that we will be back doing something before the end of the year,” he added.
“I know that events are taking place virtually but it is not the same for either performers or the audience.
“We can dress it up whatever way we want to but none of this is even close to what it used to be like.
“We probably have a great appreciation now for the audience that go to shows - the audience is essential for sport and for live music.
“For performers, the biggest part of it all is the fans.”