Sinn Féin spokesperson on Gaeilge, Gaeltacht, Arts and Culture, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, has welcomed the government’s promise of funding to live performance as the sector faces the impact of reintroduced restrictions.
But he has sought urgent clarity on how money will reach those musicians who are most affected by the new measures.
Teachta Ó Snodaigh said:
“It is welcome that Minister Martin has published details on how the €50 million will be spent, and that the government finally heeded Sinn Féin’s demand and restored the €25 million that was cut to Live Performance funding in Budget 2022.
“But there are real fears that this may go the same way as previous emergency Covid funding that never reached artists and musicians most in need.
“In particular, the fact that the bulk of this funding – €39 million through the Live Performance Support Schemes – is for venues, producers and promoters to distribute, is a cause for concern.
“Previous iterations of the LPSS saw accusations of cronyism within the industry, and performers in desperate need having to compete with one another to secure basic funding. It would be a disgrace if this happens yet again.
“At least last year’s Music and Entertainment Business Assistance Scheme (MEBAS) involved a specific allocation guaranteed to all musicians who met the criteria of need, but now it looks like all funding will be funnelled through venues and production businesses already eligible to benefit from other schemes like the CRSS and EWSS.
“Sinn Féin has been consistent throughout this pandemic that all musicians and performers should get a fair slice of the cake.
“There is no doubt that venues and producers also need support, but the Minister must set out exactly how she will ensure this essential funding is not simply given to big boy players in the industry, many of whom are well-resourced as is, to dole out to their friends.
“The supports are also entirely geared towards the ticketed events sector.
“Nothing has been announced to cater to the small player gigging musicians or entertainers whose pub gigs or Christmas party performances have already been cancelled en masse, and who face an uphill battle to find dates for any events they can reschedule for next year, with venues already booked up.
“The restoration of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment is also welcome; Sinn Féin has been demanding its continuation until the sector can get back on its feet.
“But while €350 a week is better than jobseekers’ allowance, it does not make up for the thousands of euros that musicians were relying on earning over the Christmas period to help make up for almost two years without work.
“Government restrictions and advice not to have parties or socialise has taken that from them just before Christmas.
“With worrying numbers leaving the sector for good as they see no future in it, not to mention the impact on financial and mental wellbeing of once again not being allowed to work, it is vital that Minister Martin urgently does all she can to keep musicians afloat for the coming months until they are once again permitted to take up opportunities for work.”