August 4, 2021
Performing Arts need a clear timeline for reopening and supports to survive – Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Arts and Culture, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, today echoed the call of the Performing Arts Educators of Ireland and asked the government to issue a clear statement on reopening performing arts education and to meet with the industry this week.

The Dublin South Central TD said:

“It is inexcusable that after having months to plan, the government has provided no timeline for when this sector will be allowed to reopen, and no guidelines have been prepared on how to do so safely, while at the same time insisting it is safe to reopen schools in September.

“If anything, the performing arts are better suited to social distancing and respecting public health measures when training than academic lessons in overcrowded classrooms.

“We are reading reports in the media that the Taoiseach and Tánaiste are finally now looking to prepare guidelines for the live performance sector by the end of the summer – something Minister Catherine Martin should have finalised many months ago – but there has so far been little to no mention about the education, training and rehearsing involved in that sector.

“I tried raising the matter of dance schools in particular with Minister Martin in December, and supported their protest at the gates of Leinster House, but it seems their subsequent inclusion in the Recovery and Resilience plan was only for show as, now the reopening is underway, those Levels have been completely abandoned while drama and music classes never got mention to begin with.

“The very thing I warned about at the time, that some sports and activities would be allowed to train once more while dancers were left behind, appears to be happening.

“For many people, especially kids, performance rather than sport is their main physical and social outlet, and it is integral to their mental health wellbeing, development and expression.

“Stage schools, dance classes and music groups form the backbone of communities the length and breadth of the country and contribute massively to the talent that enriches our lives, and our economy.

“The government cannot continue to claim credit for the achievements of our performers, while utterly failing the industry that produces this talent.

“This is why Sinn Féin is calling on the Taoiseach and Minister Martin to meet with the Performing Arts Educators of Ireland as a matter of urgency and work with them and with public health experts to develop a clear timeline and guidance for safely reopening the sector.

“We also reiterate our demand that government finally delivers on the funding supports promised to workers and businesses in the music and entertainment industries – many have been waiting weeks if not months after being told their applications for grant funding were successful without receiving a cent.

“It is simply not right to push ahead with cuts to the pandemic unemployment payment upon which many in the industry rely, without giving them any sign of when they can get back to work, and we know that those in the performing arts education sector are among the worst hit and least supported.

“A plan for reopening is the least they deserve.”

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