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Minister announces €50 million boost for live entertainment with extra €3 million for pantos

Leo Varadkar said a decision will be made today or tomorrow on a support scheme for businesses affected by new restrictions.

The cast of this year's Gaiety panto, which has had to cancel 50% of tickets already sold
The cast of this year's Gaiety panto, which has had to cancel 50% of tickets already sold
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

ARTS AND TOURISM minister Catherine Martin has announced details of a €50 million support package for the beleaguered live performance sector following the reimposition of capacity limits on indoor events.

It comes after the Government’s decision last week to impose a 50% limit on the number of people permitted to attend indoor cultural, entertainment, community and sporting events as part of a suite of measures aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19.

The decision forced theatres putting up Christmas pantomimes to reassess their plans for the winter months.

The Gaiety Theatre announced this week that it would have to cancel 50% of the tickets it has already sold for a planned run of The Little Mermaid, due to start this week and run until 9 January.

In a statement, the theatre said it planned to add “a very limited number of additional shows” for those who had their tickets cancelled.

The €50 million support package announced today will include a €3 million boost in funding for the seasonal musical theatre and pantomime strand of the Live Performance Support Scheme (LPSS).

According to the department, the overall funding envelope for pantos will be increased by €3 million to €5 million. The turnover requirement is being reduced to €100,000 from €300,000 with applications being accepted until the end of January 2022. 

The package also includes:

  • A €34 million boost for two new strands of the LPSS aimed at supporting performances in two phases — from December and January and then between February and June;
  • €5 million for local authorities towards artists and performance supports through the existing Local Live Performance Support Scheme;
  • €5 million to continue the capital supports scheme to go towards ventilation upgrades and other Covid adaptations for venues;
  • And €1 million for the Saint Patrick’s Festival 2022.

Commenting on the announcement,  Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD said, “The live entertainment sector has been asked to shoulder a heavy burden with these new restrictions.

“This is not where we wanted to be but the epidemiological situation is such that we must try to reduce socialisation to manage Covid-19 case numbers over the coming weeks.”

She added, “I know audiences are still seeking live performance experiences after venues were closed for so long and I do not want to see stages going dark in the coming weeks.”

The minister is also looking at additional supports for the sector, the department said in a statement.

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Speaking with reporters earlier today in Drogheda, Co Louth, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he expects Cabinet to make a decision on a backdated support scheme for businesses affected by the new restrictions this evening or tomorrow.

“We are trying to get it right,” Varadkar said.

“There is a Government decision made already that allows a degree of flexibility around the things that businesses are concerned about, which is the cap, for example, and the turnover rule.

“So we just want to make sure we get it right so that we are able to target the financial support to those companies that need it the most and that is those in the hospitality the events and arts sector.”

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