19 August 2020
NCFA welcomes the clarification today from the Department of Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht that the new restrictions on gatherings as announced by Government yesterday will not impact the current numbers allowed for professionally organised indoor and outdoor events. NCFA understands that the current numbers remain permissible, a maximum of 50 people indoors and a maximum of 200 people outdoors, and only where strict safety and social distancing measures can be implemented and maintained.
However, NCFA must note that the confusion, fear and anger felt last night and this morning across the arts and live events community was wholly unnecessary. As the guidance on arts and live events had not changed, this confusion could have been avoided completely if Government and the Department had officially communicated with the artists, arts workers and arts organisations and live events businesses who are desperately trying to reignite the sector within hugely restrictive and challenging parameters. A number of events were forced to cancel while waiting for clarification. This is not acceptable.
The arts and events sector are making enormous efforts to innovate and deliver safe live experiences, despite the most challenging of circumstances and for the most part at great financial loss. While it must be recognised that all Government Departments are under immense pressure, the arts continue to be side-lined when announcements are being made, which further erodes confidence, goodwill and security. Neither Government press conference, last evening (August 18, 2020) nor this afternoon (August 19, 2020), made any reference to professionally staged arts experiences and live events. It is difficult to understand how the Government overlooked the inclusion of specific information to allay concerns within the sector that is most affected by restrictions on gatherings.
Creating additional stress and worry through lack of clear communication was cruel and unnecessary. The Government and the Department of Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht must commit to providing timely, clear, concise information with specific reference to arts and live events in any situation where overarching national directives on gatherings are being made. This will ensure that the sector can continue to work in confidence when it is safe to do so, or amend their activities without delay and further cost implications when required to do so.
NCFA Steering Committee