CORK’S Everyman theatre will struggle to continue if immediate clarity is not provided to the live entertainment and events industry, the theatre’s artistic director has said.
Sophie Motley said she is hoping for a clear roadmap for the sector.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin met with the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media Catherine Martin yesterday to discuss the coming roadmap for the reopening of society, including the live entertainment and arts sector.
It was agreed that a meeting with industry stakeholders will take place next Monday, attended by both the Taoiseach and Tánaiste.
This will follow the latest NPHET advice and the deliberations of a COVID sub-committee this Friday, which Mr Martin will attend.
Ms Motley said: “We’re hoping that we’ll be able to get some kind of an outcome from it.
“To be honest, we just need to know so that we can plan.
“If they say you can’t have an audience of more than 50 until January then we can plan accordingly and yes that might mean that we’re not able to give the work to the artists that we want to, but at least we know,” she said.
“Of course we have to be careful and wary of the fact that case numbers are going up and hospitalisations are going up and we are very much aware of that but, I guess it just feels like we’re the industry that’s been deliberately overlooked when in other countries this hasn’t happened.
"In other countries, sport has opened and then live entertainment has reopened shortly afterward,” she continued.
Ms Motley said she was frustrated by the scenes of large crowds congregating near Croke Park at the weekend.
“It hammers it in even more seeing those images of people after Croke Park being squashed up close to each other in the streets knowing that as the entertainment industry, but also specifically The Everyman have got the capability to ensure that people are safe inside our buildings.
“It’s really worrying because unless we can get that capacity up with that sense of a roadmap, we cannot continue."
Ms Motley pointed to the fact that people have varied interests and while some may be interested in sports, others enjoy live performances and their outlet is being curtailed by the present restrictions.
She said The Everyman is prepared and capable of safely welcoming an increased number of patrons back through the doors.
“We have a lot of capacity to make people be able to see work in the building completely and utterly safely in that we can seat at least 170 people in pods of two at a complete socially-distanced two metre distance,” she said.
“At the moment we are allowed to have an audience of 50.
“We’re planning on having an audience of 50 in mid-September and what we had hoped to do was to gradually build up that audience so that we would be at that top safe capacity of 170-200 by the end of October/beginning of November.
“For us, that will mean that we are able to financially get through the year.
“If we’re not then we will be in trouble," she said.
“We’ve been very lucky in that we’ve been able to avail of emergency funding from the Arts Council and the EWSS has been supporting our staff so we’ve not lost any staff but the tricky thing is that at the moment we’re only able to pay artists for a day or two to do something that we broadcast online and with the summer, people aren’t really connecting with online things in the way they were doing last winter,” she continued.