The curtain went up tonight on the first Christmas panto in Cork since Covid as the live performance sector was thrown a €50m lifeline.
Aladdin opened at the historic Everyman Theatre to a half-full house, 24-hours after new public health restrictions kicked in, capping venue capacity at 50%.
Its artistic director, Sophie Motley, said they were delighted the show opened but uncertainty in the sector was still a massive issue.
Panto producer and director, Catherine Mahon-Buckley, said it was an emotional night, especially when they got a standing ovation.
“This is our livelihood and it’s great that the actors and musicians have been allowed to deliver what they know best,” she said.
“When you are stopped from working, it’s devastating, it’s like a bereavement, but when the band struck up last night, we all welled up. And I welcome the government supports because everyone involved in this show, in this sector, deserves it."
Earlier, Arts Minister Catherine Martin announced a €50m supports package for a sector that has seen mass cancellations caused by the new restrictions.
While the funding was welcomed, some said it was too little too late.
The package, which includes €5m for pantomimes and other seasonal shows, and grants to adapt venues, including ventilation, also includes:
- €20m for another strand of the Live Performance Support Scheme (LPSS) to support performances this month and next which may need to be cancelled, curtailed or rescheduled;
- at least €14m for another strand of the LPSS to support shows between next February and June.
The minister said she is examining how further supports can be provided.