August 13, 2021
Urgent ‘clarity and commitment’ needed from Minister Martin on Performing Arts – Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Gaeilge, Gaeltacht, Arts and Culture, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, met yesterday with representatives of the Performing Arts Educators of Ireland and Comhdháil na Múinteoirí le Rince Gaelach to discuss the need for an urgent clarification of guidelines and on when Irish dance, drama, music and stage schools will be allowed get back to indoor training and classes.

Teachta Ó Snodaigh said:

“Performing arts and dance groups were looking forward to resuming indoor training and classes on July 5th, at the same time as a partial reopening was promised for weddings and indoor dining, yet they were once more ignored by government. 

“If it’s ok for kids to go back to school in September, travel abroad or even go to the pub with their parents, the question needs to be asked as to why no thought whatsoever seems to have gone into planning a safe reopening for the performing arts and dance schools. 

“The teachers are at their wits end. Not only have they been forgotten in reopening announcements, and given only vague mention in out-of-date and confusing guidelines, but they have been shunted from pillar to post, with neither Minister Martin nor Junior Minister Chambers taking responsibility and standing up for them.

“Teachers have gone out of business and had to find new careers as a result of the pandemic. Unlike much of the rest of the cultural sectors, no financial supports have been provided whatsoever to performing arts schools or Irish dancing teachers many who have paid out for PPE equipment, outdoor stages and marquees for outdoor classes/summer camps.

“As it is now it will be hard enough for many to be able to cover the rent for halls when they are allowed too, but without clarity of the government guidelines most halls won’t even let them return.

“Dance, drama and music schools have done all they can to abide by guidelines, but all they’ve been rewarded with is confusion and contradictory advice. Clearly worded guidance from Minister Martin and a commitment that she expects our youth and their dance, performance, speech, drama teachers to be permitted to get back to what they love in early September would go a long way to lifting the stress they have lived under for 18 months. It would also allow community, council and school halls to again become the vibrant hubs of creativity they have been in the past.

“Minister Catherine Martin must commit immediately to meeting with the sector and ensuring that the performing arts and dance education sectors are included in the reopening roadmap at the end of this month. 

“Sinn Féin also calls on the government to provide a package of financial supports to help the Irish dancing, stage and dance schools reopen and get back on their feet after nearly two years lost.”

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