Musicians and events organisers say the Government’s Covid supports for the industry are too little, too late.
The criticism comes after the EU approved Ireland’s €25m scheme to support live venues, promoters and artists shut in by the coronavirus lockdown.
The Live Performance Support Scheme (LPSS) offers grants of between €10,000 and €800,000 to cover the costs of gigs scheduled on or before 30 September.
The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media said it has received over 400 applications for funding in excess of €80m, more than three times the funding available.
Elaine O'Connor, co-founder of the Event Industry Association of Ireland (EIAI), said Government policy around events is “misleading and unfair”.
“We have been divided by a Government who refuses to engage fairly with us, has forced us to use our life savings to sustain ourselves, our families and our businesses,” she told the Irish Independent. “It's all super late, super delayed. In essence, people have been surviving on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment – business or no business."
She says there are still no guidelines in place for events which, under the LPSS, have to take place by the end of September.
"We are going to spend money we don't have on events that can't happen.”
The European Commission said yesterday that the scheme can help “minimise the risks” of setting up an event that may later have to be cancelled due to a Covid resurgence.
Performers have also been calling for extra aid. As sole traders, they don’t qualify for the State’s main business support schemes. They say schemes like the LPSS and the Music Entertainment Business Assistance Scheme (MEBAS) – which offers grants of €2,500 or €5,000, depending on turnover – are inadequate.
“One of the biggest things we have to convince the Government of is that the people you see performing in a pub – that’s a profession,” said Matt McGranaghan, musician and spokesperson for the Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland (MEAI). “In the eyes of the Government, of Revenue, that doesn’t matter. What matters is your business model.”
But he said the LPSS will ultimately help to boost the phased reopening of the industry.
“It’s a great support which will stimulate the industry and help grow confidence in the public. However, it is a competitive support and not everyone in the industry will benefit from it.”
Mr McGranaghan has also called on the Government to set up trial events like the gigs held in the UK, Spain and The Netherlands, as long as there are proper guidelines in place and testing and tracing is followed up.