Live entertainment sector calls for further State support

Live entertainment sector calls for further State support

Over 5,000 people working in Ireland's entertainment industry are in arrears with mortgage payments and bills due to a loss of income during the pandemic, it is claimed. Picture: File Picture/Pexels

Some 5% of Arts Council funding should go into a new hardship fund to help people working in the live entertainment industry.

That's one of many proposals included in a new pre-Budget submission to Government made by the Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland (MEAI) today. 

The livelihoods of people working in the arts and entertainment industry have been heavily impacted by Covid-19 restrictions on concerts and live music events.

Now, MEAI is calling for the reinstatement of the full Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) as well as reduced VAT and guarantees on payment breaks for artists and entertainers with mortgages and bank loans.

The group represents nearly 5,000 people working in live entertainment, including musicians, sound engineers, booking agents, DJs, and others.

They say that many of those they represent are now in arrears due to their loss of income during the pandemic, while many more have had to sell their professional equipment to meet household bills.  

In a statement, MEAI said: “Since the 12th March 2020, the Music & Entertainment sector has been in lockdown. 

Overnight, diaries were wiped out, upcoming engagements canceled, and with no roadmap or end in sight, the sector is still in the same lockdown since that date.

"Our members are not unemployed but forced not to be employed as a result of Covid-19 guidelines — the Music & Entertainment sector by its very nature relies on audiences and social crowds and settings.

According to the MEAI:

  • Almost 70% of members depend on the music and entertainment sector for their income; 
  • 11.5% cent have utility bills in arrears; 
  • One-in-10 members are now having to sell essential equipment to cover household expenses;
  • 17.4% are dealing with mental health worries as a result of financial stress.

The group is urging the Government to reinstate the €350 per week PUP payment at a single tier. 

An extension of the current taskforce created by Minister Catherine Martin, above, is being urged to examine current practices and develop an inclusive strategy for the funded and commercial arts sectors. Picture: Julien Behal
An extension of the current taskforce created by Minister Catherine Martin, above, is being urged to examine current practices and develop an inclusive strategy for the funded and commercial arts sectors. Picture: Julien Behal

They also want the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) set at €410 per week until the arts and entertainment industry is in a position to reopen without the need for social distancing.

They are also seeking the creation of a Survival Package and Scaffolding support structure for self-employed individuals and businesses.

Additionally, MEAI wishes to see a broadening of the current criteria to ensure the commercial live music sector can properly avail of Arts Council funding.

The group says  an extension of the current taskforce, created by Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport, and the Gaeltacht, Catherine Martin,
would go a long way towards the development of an inclusive strategy for the funded and commercial arts sectors.

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