The company which organises and takes the financial risk for Galway’s annual Christmas market has issued a statement in response to last evening’s declaration by the City Council that the event will not proceed this year, saying that the decision to cancel events in Eyre Square should not have been made at this stage.
Milestone Inventive has told the Advertiser that they received the news with great disappointment in spite of encouraging conversations with the Council. They also stated that they have submitted proposals to that effect to both Galway City Council and Failte Ireland and look forward to working with both to continue to deliver Christmas magic and a positive economic impact to the City.
They say a decision on the market should not have been made until October 27, the date on which the Level 3 status expires.
Milestone Inventive which produces Christmas Market Galway is renowned for its creativity and ability to quickly adapt to changing circumstances. That unique adaptive capacity was fully flexed this summer when Milestone's Galway Summer Garden production safely brought joy and relief from the doom and gloom of the new (ab )normal to thousands of locals and visitors alike and gave vital work to hundreds of local artists and performers.
In a statement they said that it is with great disappointment that they received the news, unexpected at this early remove, that Galway City Council CEO had taken a decision that there will be no activity on Eyre Sq for Christmas 2020.
“This came in spite of encouraging initial conversations with Galway City Council and considerable work on planning for a socially distanced and safe running of a re-imagined event, as a controlled environment, which would be viable under level 2 restrictions.
“Level 3 is just a week in force and whether or not, around its expiry date of October 27th, the restriction level goes down, up or remains the same, cannot be foreseen by anyone until much closer to that date. We feel this decision should have been delayed until then.
“Government, both local and national and society are equally committed to the ‘Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19’ framework. We owe it to each other to ensure that that commitment is consistent, fair and firm. That means giving the plan and our onerous commitments thereunder, the time, which has been built into it, to generate the positive outcomes intended, without pre-judging that outcome.
“While the fact of the event being scaled back, as was being planned, was already going to have significant consequences, we would at least have been spared a considerable amount of the totality of the consequences of it not taking place at all, which are huge:
1. Galway loses €20million + in economic impact arising out of the fact that
i. 67% of visitors to the market come from outside Galway City.
ii. 57% of these visitors stay overnight.
iii. 68% of visitors cite the market as their primary reason for visiting Galway City Centre.
iv. 85% of those attending the market continue shopping in the City Centre.
v. For every €1 spent in the market a further €3 is spent in City Centre shops, pubs & restaurants.
2. 100 direct seasonal jobs (Nov 13 to Dec 22 ) are lost.
3. 60 traders directly reliant on trading at the Christmas Market lose their main annual source of income.
4. 30 artisan food and craft producers lose an important sales platform.
5. 10 vital local charities lose an important platform for fundraising and public engagement.
“It should be noted that 70% of all traders are local and 80% of all traders have been trading at Christmas Market Galway for more than 3 years (50% for more than 5 years ).
“We welcome the City Council's commitment to "delivering a safe, socially distant Christmas experience in Galway this year" and we have submitted proposals to that effect to both Galway City Council and Failte Ireland and look forward to working with both to continue to deliver Christmas Magic and economic impact to the City,” the statement concluded.