Electric Picnic: 'Everything we were asked to do, was done and it’s not enough'

Electric Picnic: 'Everything we were asked to do, was done and it’s not enough'

Electric Picnic organisers have said they are “extremely disappointed” with the decision of the Council not to award a license. Picture: Aerial.ie 

Organisers of the Electric Picnic festival have called on the Government to interrupt the summer recess and "immediately issue reopening guidelines” for their sector after the event was forced to be cancelled. 

On Wednesday, Laois County Council refused to grant a license for organisers to hold the festival this year.

The Council made the decision based on “the most up-to-date public health advice made available to the Council by the HSE”.

Electric Picnic organisers have said they are “extremely disappointed” with the decision of the Council.

They say that all attendees, including ticket holders, staff and artists, would have to be fully vaccinated and registered in advance for Department of Health contact tracing.

The organisers have said that decision means a “further loss of employment for over 3,000 people”.

Those employees “had clung to the hope that Electric Picnic would bring an end to their period of hardship”.

Music promoter Caroline Downey has told of the devastation experienced by those involved in the festival on hearing that it was to be cancelled.

Organisers cite the TRNSMT Festival in Scotland, “a country with a similar population and virtually identical vaccine rollout and uptake as our own”, which is set to go ahead in September.

They say it makes the decision “even more difficult to accept”.

“We now call upon all members of government to interrupt their summer recess and immediately issue reopening guidelines, as we have being calling for, with a reopening date for the sector of the 16th August on a phased basis, building to the implementation of no restrictions from 1st September 2021 onwards,” organisers said in a statement.

Caroline Downey, from MCD who are involved in Electric Picnic, said two years of work have gone the festival.
Caroline Downey, from MCD who are involved in Electric Picnic, said two years of work have gone the festival.

“We wish to thank all the fans for their patience and the community of Stradbally and the people of Laois for their huge ongoing support during this difficult time.

“We will now review our options and be in contact directly with all ticket holders over the next week.

Caroline Downey, from MCD who are involved in Electric Picnic, said two years of work have gone the festival.

“We had done everything we can to ensure Electric Picnic would be safe,” she told RTÉ's  News at One.

“Everything we were asked to do, was done and it’s not enough. 

"We have put two years of work into Electric Picnic. We had work for 3,000 people associated with the event.” 

Ms Downey said she did not know who was making decisions any more “it’s not the Government.” 

Everything was deferred back to Nphet, she said. 

“Covid is going nowhere and it's about how we manage it and how we live with it.” 

There was no road plan, she added. “We don't know what is happening. I don't know who is making the decisions anymore.” 

Ms Downey, who also produces pantomimes, said it was very frustrating not knowing what was going to happen as pandemic insurance was not available and there were people waiting to build sets, actors awaiting costume fittings and it was still uncertain whether pantos could go ahead this year.

On the same programme, writer and singer Niall Breslin pointed out that as tough as it had been for musicians they could work and create music that could be released when the pandemic was over. But people who worked behind the scenes could not do that.

Niall Breslin has called for a strategy to be put in place.
Niall Breslin has called for a strategy to be put in place.

The decision about Electric Picnic “really hit them” as previously there had been “huge hope.” 

Mr Breslin said that the live events sector was like an ecosystem towards which there seemed to be a lack of consideration. 

He did not want different industries or sectors “turning on each other.” He was delighted that 40,000 could go to Croke Park for the finals. The negativity being displayed towards the GAA on social media was sad to see, he said. “That’s not what this is about."

What was happening had come about because of “poor leadership and poor communication.” Laois County Council had o option, but to make the decision they did given the lack of purpose from the Government, he said.

Mr Breslin said he was very concerned about his colleagues in the industry.

“It's not just about Electric Picnic, we just need the Government to sit down with us this week. We just want a strategy. We’re not asking for a lot.”

'We just want a plan'

Singer Danny O’Reilly has called on the Government to provide a road map for the return of the live music sector. 

His band The Coronas were due to play at Electric Picnic this year.

“It’s very disappointing,” he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland. 

He said the core issue for him was that there was no plan for the industry, yet there could be plans for 40,000 spectators to attend the All-Ireland finals in Croke Park, where there could be people drinking before and after the games, he said. 

“But we can only have 200 at an event until the end of September.” 

Mr O’Reilly added: “you see what’s going on with Katherine Zappone and how quickly Fáilte Ireland can meet the Government. There was no rush for the events industry.”

Danny O'Reilly's band The Coronas were due to play at the Electric Picnic, which was refused planning permission by Laois County Council on Wednesday.
Danny O'Reilly's band The Coronas were due to play at the Electric Picnic, which was refused planning permission by Laois County Council on Wednesday.

There had been preferential treatment for the GAA too, he said. “We’re not banging down the door to let 40,000 people into a gig. We just want a plan.” 

There were many venues that could host events in a responsible way. he said, pointing out that the events industry was very well regulated and knew how to put on safe events. 

“We could keep people seated and socially distanced.” 

Earlier on Newstalk Breakfast Sunil Sharpe of the Give Us The Night Campaign called for a more accessible and more affordable testing campaign that would allow people to attend events. 

The current system where people had to pay €100 for a PCR test so they could travel was “a scam”, he said and needed to be subsidised.

There should be free antigen testing which would provide a safer route for the return to live events. Not every industry was going to “get it right”, but the events sector just wanted to be given a chance like everyone else, he said.

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