Our Sector Is Screaming Out For Help, But Who Will Listen?

Saoire O' Brien
3 min readAug 22, 2021

My work is heavily intertwined with the arts, cultural and entertainment industry. In March of 2020 the news of the pandemic came and staff were sent home for 2 weeks to flatten the curve…18+ months later and there’s still no change.

Ireland has been subject to one of the severest lockdowns in Europe so far! Certain industries have not been allowed to operate to full capacity. My industry falls under this category and we have been out of work for 18+ months now, with no end in sight, no roadmap to reopening and no meaningful government support.

Right : Enya Martin (Giz A Laugh) and myself on the left, back in 2017

I work for a community centre and at the heart of it lies a theatre. In my first year there, I was closely involved with the theatre. I worked with, musicians, artists, actors, singers, sound engineers, theatre groups and their managers and promoters. In my second year, my role became more focused on the community, public events, charity events and local businesses, which tied in with the production of a 12 page newsletter that was distributed to the local community on a monthly basis.

Over the past year and a half, I have watched closely that network, through their emails and social media pages, in some cases public and in others private. Some small businesses are still surviving, some new ones have even opened up but there is a lot that had to stop trading. The performers and the associated professions have been hit the worst. Many now a year and a half later, facing PUP (pandemic unemployment payment) cuts for a situation that their hands are tied in! The future options facing them…change profession and reskill? This lack of understanding for a whole sector of society by our government officials is a tragedy in the making.

Ireland, “the land of poets and legends, of dreamers and rebels”, will be no more. Our cultural fabric is been ripped apart and only little shreds of it are left hanging on.

I have personally watched artists trying to diversify within their industry. Some tried to stream gigs online, others tried to set up paywalls and Patreon accounts, some had a few gigs promoting other businesses and I’ve also seen some individuals retrain in a different sector.

Ireland cannot afford to ignore this any longer. Just like we cannot ignore the difficult…