Musicians demand clear plan to reopen live entertainment industry

Musicians demand clear plan to reopen live entertainment industry

Musicians from Cork City and County and their supporters gathered for an eye-catching "Silent protest" on Grand Parade in Cork City today. Picture: Larry Cummins

Musicians and artists have called for the Government to publish a plan to reopen the live entertainment industry in Ireland.

Up to 100 demonstrators took part in a protest outside the Dáil, which is sitting in the Convention Centre in Dublin, to demand a commitment from the Government to reopen the sector.

The decision to protest silently is a powerful act of symbolism referring to the fact that professional musicians have been locked out of work for 15 months and have no road-map to recovery, unlike other industries. Picture: Larry Cummins
The decision to protest silently is a powerful act of symbolism referring to the fact that professional musicians have been locked out of work for 15 months and have no road-map to recovery, unlike other industries. Picture: Larry Cummins

Industry professionals say they have been out of a job for more than a year and want clarity on a plan that will see the return of live music.

Live music has been banned from all venues, despite the reopening of the outdoor hospitality sector and changes in the number of guests allowed to attend weddings.

Events singer Jenny O’Donovan said guidance to allow live music should be published.

Ms O’Donovan, who sings at wedding ceremonies, drinks receptions and funerals, has had to get a job as a carer.

“Singing was my full-time gig and I wasn’t getting the full PUP (Pandemic Unemployment Payment) payment so I had to get a carer job, which I am very grateful for but it’s not something I want to wake up every day and want to do,” she told the PA news agency.

“I really want to get back to singing, it’s good for the soul.”

Musicians and supporters gathered for their protest at midday in the city to demonstrate the impact of the pandemic on the live music industry. Picture: Larry Cummins
Musicians and supporters gathered for their protest at midday in the city to demonstrate the impact of the pandemic on the live music industry. Picture: Larry Cummins

There is concern that the rising number of Covid-19 cases associated with the Delta variant, first identified in India, may delay further reopening in Ireland.

Ms O’Donovan added: “It breaks my heart. Last year, when there were no vaccinations, there was Level 3 and we were allowed to play in the corner away from everyone. Why can’t we make it safe for clients and couples now?”

“No music is no good for everyone, it brings up your mood.”

Musician John Flannagan, who performs pop, country and traditional music in bars and at weddings, said: “We’ve been silenced from playing music.

“The last gig we had was on March 12 last year. There has been no live music and there is no direction when we can go back to work.

“Fáilte Ireland issued guidelines a few weeks ago banning live music and any sort of entertainment.

“Live music doesn’t necessarily have to be loud music, we just want to go back to work.”

The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media has been contacted for comment.

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