Relief in West Cork as entertainment sector given the green light to reopen

Sean Phair, Ambiguous Fiddle, recording a live stream performance of Elaine Malone at Debarra’s Folk Club, Clonakilty. This series is co-funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht Sport and Media. Photo: Bríd O’Donovan.

In his address to the nation on Tuesday, August 31, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that the sectors still closed due to Covid-19 can “now begin to hope again”. If all goes according to plan, restrictions will gradually ease in September including the return of indoor live music events, albeit with restrictions to capacity.

For the entertainment industry who were met with constant delays to reopening, as they watched indoor sporting events and other organised activities return before them, this announcement has been a very long time coming and has been met with relief and cautious optimism.

Cork South West Deputy Christopher O’Sullivan has promised to keep advocating on behalf of the live entertainment and events sector. “Here in West Cork in particular the change in restrictions means a return to live, indoor music, one of the many gems that puts us on the tourism map. While the crowd size restrictions are not ideal, we can take comfort in the fact that sticking to the plan is working, and will continue to work.

 “From the Taoiseach to minister Catherine Martin and from the start of this pandemic, I’ve been pushing to bring the live entertainment and events sector front and centre of the government’s agenda and will continue to do so.”

Ray Blackwell and Kevin McNally, Clonakilty International Guitar Festival said that while they welcome any further easing of restrictions for live events, they are conscious of patron’s safety and committed to presenting the festival in a responsible manner.

“The past 18 months have not been easy and it has been incredibly draining for those in our industry, something that hasn’t been helped by the mixed messaging of some quarters and in particular some sporting events. 

 “As a community festival we are well used to pushing boulders up hills. As always, the imagination and can-do spirit of our team and town will ensure we present the best festival we can in the climate we find ourselves in.

“We are looking to the future with open minds and a willingness to make it work for our artists, patrons and fans.”

Irish and French indie-folk singer songwriters based in West Cork, Les SalAmandas commented “While the people that make the rules that keep us civilised, safe and healthy have been doing their best in this new and uncertain time of crisis, there is a common feeling across the music industry; we’re being let down.

“…while 40,000 people watched the Cork and Limerick match in Croke park, we sat in envy at the telly wondering when the uncertainty would end for us?

“…We need all the help we can get to bring Ireland’s once thriving live music industry back to its old self. 

“Live music is the source of income for so many people, from the stage crew and promoters to managers and artists. The lack of gigs has meant a loss of work for many people. But not only that, it means that so many musicians haven’t been able to share their music, that so many people who’ve loved gigs haven’t been able to enjoy them, and people who haven’t found out that they love gigs maybe won’t for another while. As people who’ve found their love for music from live gigs, we feel strongly that they get to happen again.”

Joe O’Leary of Levis’ Corner House in Ballydehob feels fortunate to be part of a community that has rallied together more so than ever throughout this pandemic.

“In the past 18 months due mostly to political decisions, musicians and artists have fallen by the wayside whilst some have soared in their creativity. Musicians, sound engineers, production managers, lighting engineers, promoters, film makers, photographers, arts administrators, crew have all either adapted or left our industry. All because we were put on ice by the powers that be…”

“We are mental wellness, we are survival, we are powerful stuff, we are craic, we are life, we are community, we are art, we are sport, we are empathy, we are music and we are a reason to look forward to the day and often to the night. For us and for many many others, just get out of the way and let us do what we have always done; beautifully, safely and kindly.  

 “Long live the music; long live the tunes.”

WCP Staff

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