Words: Dylan Murphy
Defined by silence, tokenism and non-response, the Irish government’s approach has left 35,000 people in the lurch without any hint of urgency to suggest a change of plan. We need a clear, concise and achievable roadmap for the live events industry now.
It’s been over 500 days since the live events industry closed and over 35,000 people’s livelihoods were thrown into turmoil. We’ve had a few token events since, but nothing sustainable that can ensure a return to some sense of normality, put anxious minds at ease and get people back to work. Thousands of people are feeling the squeeze and still, the government is dragging its heels on providing reassurance for an industry on its knees.
Nialler9 hit the nail on the head last week when he called for a roadmap from the Irish government. It came after Catherine Martin “signalled her intention to work closely with Government colleagues towards developing a re-opening plan for the sector” in what felt like another in a long line of non-statements and since then we’ve still heard nothing. Nada. Zilch.
It’s been a running theme throughout the pandemic and the silence is especially deafening given Scotland plans to have its own ‘Freedom Day’ on August 9, England has been open for a number of weeks and our northern neighbours have a series of outdoor gigs on the horizon this month in Belfast.
Meanwhile, in Ireland, test events were organised where no one was quite sure what they tested 12 months after England had already executed something similar, whilst Liverpool hosted 5,000 ravers in a nightclub without restrictions in April and Spain later laid a blueprint with their 5,000 capacity pilot event that showed “no sign” of higher levels of infection.
We’re not asking for emulation of Boris’ gung-ho approach or a return that would put people at risk, but when there’s greater vaccination uptake in the south than the north, the GAA has tens of thousands heading to stadiums for games and there is evidence the industry can return safely and people are still being left in the lurch it puts the government’s apathy for the arts into full focus.
The silence in the case of the potential roadmap is not an isolated incident. You only have to look back to the May announcement of a series of pilot events that were to take place over the summer in Ireland. Jam Park in Swords was lined up to host the first Nightclub event in over 14 months in Ireland and in what feels like a development symbolic of the state of Dublin’s cultural climate, it became another in a long line of closures leaving the respective event up in the air. Predictably, there’s been complete silence and no sign of intent to reorganise the pilot event since.
An alternative and ultimately more pessimistic way of looking at things could be that there aren’t going to be clubs for events to return to. This frightening notion was put under the spotlight when Bicep announced that since Jam Park closed they’ve been unable to reschedule a Dublin date on their tour.
Moreover, when Ireland’s foremost advocate for the nighttime industry in GiveUsTheNight and one of its biggest festivals in Electric Picnic can’t get an immediate response after its cancellation, but the public statements are thrown out like a hot potato in the face of a potential political scandal it’s clear for all where the government’s priorities lie.
While the result of Katherine Zappone hosting 50 people at an event at the gardens of The Merrion Hotel was clarification that outdoor events with music in hospitality settings will be permitted, we can’t wait on Leo Varadkar to attend some fictitious gig for there to be clarity on the return of concerts.
The continued smokescreens and silence from the government is pushing people to the precipice and we can’t afford to wait any longer. We need a roadmap now.
Elsewhere on District: ‘My Goodness My Guinness’ The Guinness Storehouse has reopened its doors after six months.