Entertainment industry in Galway cannot remain suspended while thousands attend sporting events, says McNelis

Labour councillor says Government must publish road map for the full reopening of arts and entertainment sector in the State

A concert in the Galway International Arts Festival Big Top in pre-Covid times.

A concert in the Galway International Arts Festival Big Top in pre-Covid times.

It “beggars belief” that the arts and entertainment sector still has “no clarity” as to when it will be permitted to operate “on any sustainable scale”, while at the same time workers in that sector will see their income supports cut from September 7.

This is the view of Labour Galway City West councillor, Niall McNelis, who said there is “no ongoing justification” for the Government’s failure to provide roadmaps for the arts and entertainment sector.

Cllr McNelis [pictured below] said it was harder to justify that approach when “a more liberal approach has been taken to other sectors”, such as the reopening of pubs and, particularly attendances at sporting events.

“Caution must be taken, but it is simply unacceptable that one sector bears the brunt of that caution,” he said. “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 on Sunday.”

He said it was hard to “understand the scientific basis” for indoor music, dance, and drama classes to remain suspended given the demographic profile and controlled conditions of these classes, while gyms have been open since June.

“The 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,” Cllr McNelis said.

‘Shamefully strung along’

Workers in the entertainment industry, meanwhile, have been “shamefully strung along for months with unkept promises about plans for re-opening” and now face into the autumn with the slashing of their support payments. Cuts to the PUP payments begin on September 7.

Cllr McNelis argues that indoor concerts and theatre should begin again on a regular basis given that most of the adult population is now fully vaccinated. He said indoor shows should have vaccine passports and control measures like antigen testing, ventilation, and CO2 monitors.

“With these measures live events and indoor activities could be restarted,” he said. “There has been a near complete failure by the Government to recognise that antigen testing and controlled environments can play a vital part in ensuring that live entertainment could resume.”

Cllr McNelis has attended a number of pilot and socially distended events and has been impressed by how they have been run.

“I have spent most of the summer working with the entertainment industry,” he said, “and first hand I have seen the professionalism and high standards this industry has shown and would continue if allowed to reopen.”

He has called on the Minister for Arts, Catherine Martin, to publish proposals for the reopening of indoor classes and entertainment. “Arts and culture played such an important role in the mental health of so many during the last eighteen months,” he said, “now we must let them back on the main stage to entertain us all.”


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