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Blindspot to arts and entertainment sector must end – roadmap and halt to PUP cuts needed

23 August 2021

  • No ongoing justification for failure to provide roadmaps for Arts and entertainment sector.
  • PUP cuts from 7th September will disproportionately impact workers in sectors with no reopening plan.

Labour Arts spokesperson Senator Marie Sherlock has said that it beggars belief that so many months after the first re-opening road map for 2021 that all parts of the arts and entertainment sector still have no clarity as to when they will be permitted to operate on any sustainable scale, while their income supports will be cut from 7th September.

Senator Sherlock said:

“Reading the farcical situation last week where a senior cabinet minister was having to insist in getting a seat at the Covid sub-committee reflects the extent to which the Arts has become the Government’s blindspot.

“With little scientific basis or rational justification, the Arts and live entertainment has become the focal point for the Government’s caution on re-opening and while many of us understand that caution must be taken, it is simply unacceptable that one sector bears the brunt of that caution, when a more liberal approach has been taken to other sectors.

“For a start the sector is hugely diverse and yet is subject to many draconian restrictions. No account seems to be taken that a huge proportion of the adult population is now fully vaccinated, and using vaccine passports and control measures like antigen testing, ventilation and CO2 monitors, live events and indoor activities could be restarted.

“It’s hard to understand the scientific basis for indoor music, dance and drama classes to remain suspended and the threat posed by such classes given the demographic profile and controlled conditions of these classes while gyms have been open since June. It is almost twelve months since last October when indoor dance, music and drama classes were suspended with restrictions in in-door classes in Dublin and Donegal having taken effect before that.

“Despite all the honeyed words about ensuring the smooth functioning of the education system, Government has adopted an overly narrow view of education and has failed recognise the hugely important role played by dance, music and drama classes in the broader holistic education system."

Senator Sherlock continued

“Within the live entertainment sector, workers have been shamefully strung along for months with unkept promises about pilot performances and plans for re-opening. To make matters worse cuts will begin to PUP payments from 7th September. The PUP is a vital income support for these workers but no roadmap has yet been published on when they will be allowed get back to work.

“What was the point of pilot events earlier in the summer if no actions or learnings are taken from it? Workers in theatre and live music will have seen the scenes of thousands of unmasked persons from both within and immediately outside the grounds of Croke Park yesterday. There has been a near complete failure by Government to recognise that antigen testing and controlled environments can play a vital part in ensuring that live entertainment could resume.”