Festival Republic and MCD, the organisers behind Electric Picnic have put out a statement in the aftermath of the fact thatLaois County Council have refused a licence for this year’s festival, expressing disappointment, comparing the Irish live industry to other countries and calling for a reopening of the live sector from September 1st with no social distancing or capacity restrictions.
Give Us The Night, the advocacy group for Irish nightlife, who have previously been working with the government on changing our archaic licensing laws, have also put out a statement in which they ask to abolish the statutory instrument that made loud live music and dancing illegal, while demanding a “starting date for all live events (with the removal of social distancing) including music venues and nightclubs, no later than the beginning of October.”
The letter goes on to outline the need for Licensing law reform, ventilation guidance, free PCR and antigen tests for events, permits for outdoor events and assurances that there will be no more closures of events if cases rise.
See both letters in full below:
Electric Picnic statement
Together with all the fans of Electric Picnic we are extremely disappointed that Laois County Council have refused a licence for this year’s festival scheduled to take place 24th – 26th September 2021. See LCC statement HERE
This is despite our proposal that everyone attending the event, including ticket holders, staff and artists, would have to be fully vaccinated and registered in advance for Department of Health contact tracing.
To see Scotland, a country with a similar population and virtually identical vaccine rollout and uptake as our own, only announce on Tuesday that they were easing restrictions and allowing events such as TRNSMT Festival in Glasgow go ahead in September makes this decision even more difficult to accept. Click Link HERE
This is a huge blow and set back to our entire sector, which was mandated to close on the 12th March 2020 (over 500 days ago) and such a decision now means the further loss of employment for over 3,000 people, who had clung to the hope that Electric Picnic would bring an end to their period of hardship.
We now call upon all members of government to interrupt their summer recess and immediately issue reopening guidelines, as we have being calling for, with a reopening date for the sector of the 16th August on a phased basis, building to the implementation of no restrictions from 1st September 2021 onwards.
We wish to thank all the fans for their patience and the community of Stradbally and the people of Laois for their huge ongoing support during this difficult time.
We will now review our options and be in contact directly with all ticket holders over the next week.
The Electric Picnic Team.
August 4th, 2021
Give Us The Night statement
Dear Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister Martin,
I am writing to you on behalf of Give Us The Night, and in relation to a number of current issues. We speak for venues, promoters, DJs, musicians, staff, service providers and patrons across the night-time sector in Ireland. We have been advocating for progressive changes to the industry for many years, and as you know are sectoral representatives on the Night-Time Economy Task Force.
Ireland, despite its high rate of vaccine uptake, is the only European country that has made no concrete plans for the return of its events industry and venues. At this point many countries have already returned and are navigating their way through the situation and challenges that arise. This is a point worth emphasising, that it’s the industry itself that will have the biggest challenges ahead of them when reopening begins, not the Government.
The night-time sector provides employment for a wide range of professionals and skilled workers, educated through countless higher education and further education courses relating to the arts, music, entertainment and hospitality. It also provides employment for foreign workers, casual workers and students, who may rely on the sector for full-time, part-time or supplemental income.
Our industry has been shut for almost 17 months now. In that time a lot has changed, with many venues and nightclubs that have had to permanently close. Workers have had to move out of the country, change careers or remain unemployed.
In the Government’s ‘The Path Ahead’ document (published April 29th), it states that “high risk activities” such as bars, restaurants, nightclubs and mass gatherings/events (indoors and outdoors) would be considered in June. Having recently returned to indoor business, bars and restaurants were certainly considered, which we were very happy to see. However no meaningful consideration has been given to nightclubs or indoor and outdoor music events, nor was any clear update given.
Even after establishing an expert advisory group on rapid testing, little to no reference has been made by the Government in relation to the events industry on rapid testing, which we find surprising considering the industry (by the Government’s own definition) is ‘high risk’ and surely needs all types of possible testing in place. The fact that the Health Minister has still not given any direction on how events should proceed in relation to testing at this point, is hard to understand.
The Government has also piloted large sports events, where attendances have been steadily rising to now tens of thousands per match. Again, we fully support this, but wonder why our industry is now the only remaining one without any date for return. A reopening plan, that has been afforded to every other industry at this point, is long overdue.
We are asking for:
1. A guarantee of non-socially distanced trial events in September irrespective of COVID-19 case numbers.
2. A lifting of the ban on dancing at all live events (indoors and outdoors), to take effect as soon as possible.
3. A lifting of the ban on live and loud music.
4. The significant expansion of public testing services, to offer a range of free PCR and antigen tests for the public, ensuring increased safety against any possible outbreaks of COVID-19 at events.
5. A starting date for all live events (with the removal of social distancing) including music venues and nightclubs, no later than the beginning of October
6. Licensing law reform (announced in February) to be advanced as a matter of urgency to meet the needs of heavily challenged night-time venues after they reopen.
7. In the intervening time, reinstatement of ‘late’ opening should happen as soon as possible to create much-needed staggered closing between restaurants, bars and venues, putting less pressure on public transport and increasing public safety. We reject the idea of nightclubs having to become fully-fledged pubs with table service in order to do business. This is not an option for most nightclubs, whose market is post-midnight.
8. Special exemption order fees to be waived entirely for venues currently in possession of a dance licence. This will help these venues as they recover from the last 17 months of shutdown, while entering a new period in time when business will be very unpredictable.
9. Assurance that events and venues will not have to close immediately if COVID-19 case numbers rise in the future. Closures should be an absolute last resort. A tiered scaling back on numbers and closing times, and reintroduction of social distancing, should be explored before any blanket closures.
10. Acknowledgement from the Government that a continued shutdown of events and entertainment venues will result in an upsurge of unregulated events, increasing the chance of the virus spreading this winter. Last winter became house party season, a trend that is becoming an ongoing threat to the entertainment and hospitality industries that may lead to an increased cultural shift over the next year, and further issues in residential areas.
11. Government funded training for event and venue staff to deal with the challenges of enforcing COVID-19 regulations.
12. Clear direction to be given to indoor music venues on ventilation. A grant scheme to aid the cost and installation of required systems should be established.
13. Local authorities to assist venues by permitting the use of adjoining or nearby outdoor space for events. Consideration should also be given to erect weather-friendly marquees and tents in selected areas, diversifying the range of locations that can be used in the evening and at night, and empowering local event organisers to plan ahead with more certainty.
The Government’s response to reopening has been inadequate, inflexible and lacking a basic understanding of how the industry works. Our industry is facing existential difficulties that must be met by a range of Government interventions and emergency help. The sector has struggled over decades under strict, outdated and soul-destroying regulations that have been responsible for the gradual decay and disappearance of what was once a thriving industry. All of these issues have been compounded by the pandemic.
The coming months, and in particular the last quarter of the year, is a crucial period in the calendar for venues and event organisers, and it is now vital that the Government allows us to plan for this period.
I look forward to your further communication on these matters and hope we can make swift progress on all of the above.
Founder, Give Us The Night