Stephen Donnelly's advice for children not to attend pantos ‘incomprehensible’

'The theatre is the safest place that children could go because it's a controlled environment'
Stephen Donnelly's advice for children not to attend pantos ‘incomprehensible’

Sophie Motley, artistic director of The Everyman, Cork: 'We know that we can provide a safe experience for children and their families at our pantos.'

A “senseless” introduction of restrictions, which would see children turned away from this year’s pantomime, would be a "final blow" to Cork’s arts industry, the artistic director of The Everyman has warned.

Sophie Motley slammed as "incomprehensible" plans by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly for pantomime shows to continue but for children not to attend. Mr Donnelly said that supports would be offered to businesses affected.

However, Ms Motley said the move makes no sense.

“For me and for The Everyman, the theatre is the safest place that children could go because it's a controlled environment. They're sitting in their bubbles with their family members,” she said.

'At a loss'

“It just seems a little incomprehensible. We're a bit at a loss because we know that we can provide a safe experience for children and their families at our pantos.

"As things stand, Minister Donnelly’s advice is just that — advice. This makes the process of refunding customers more difficult than if it were enforced.

“Essentially, it's putting the choice on to families as to whether they bring their children to the panto or not, but I think if you're advised not to, then it's difficult to encourage people. 

"All we're trying to do is tell people who've booked tickets that we are in a safe space,” said Ms Motley.

The Everyman has taken numerous precautions in order to protect show-goers. These includes a reduced capacity of 60%, increased ventilation, and not having too many performers on stage.

This is the final blow to a huge amount of the arts industry. 

"It's tough because the panto usually is something that enables us to raise money to pay for local artists and to support a community of artists in Cork.” 

As things stand, however, the show will go on. Ms Motley confirmed that it will go ahead until mid-January, as planned.

This allows customers to swap their tickets if the show is cancelled by restrictions, or if customers do not currently feel comfortable.

This year’s show, Aladdin, which is being staged in association with Cada Performing Arts Academy, will open on December 8 and run until January 15.

A spokesperson for Cork Opera House said they were monitoring the situation but were optimistic their panto would go ahead.

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