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Entertainment industry workers at the Convention Centre in Dublin this week for industry body EPIC’s pre-budget submission launch

Entertainment industry workers at the Convention Centre in Dublin this week for industry body EPIC’s pre-budget submission launch

Entertainment industry workers at the Convention Centre in Dublin this week for industry body EPIC’s pre-budget submission launch

Concert and festival promoter Denis Desmond has demanded the Government do more to get the commercial live entertainment industry up and running again.

"There are no initiatives coming from the Government. There's nothing," the MCD boss said.

"The commercial live entertainment business has been at a standstill for the last six month.

"It's going to be at a standstill for the next six months and probably longer if the Government doesn't move and support the industry to re-open.

The commercial live entertainment industry employs 35,000 people, is said to generate €3.4bn for the economy and has this week been running an awareness campaign on the impact of Covid 19 on the business.

MCD is the biggest player here and last year clocked up an estimated €144.3m in ticket sales from 2.3 million music fans who attended MCD-promoted events including Hozier, Westlife, Metallica and the massive sell-out Electric Picnic.

Ticket sales this year, however, will only be a small fraction of that due to Covid-19.

Mr Desmond said he was "disappointed" over the absence of a plan for the re-opening of the live entertainment industry in the Government's Covid-19 plan published this week.

"We're six months into the pandemic and there needs to be a roadmap and a plan to financially support shows with social distancing," he said.

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MCD's Denis Desmond

MCD's Denis Desmond

MCD's Denis Desmond

"We will be doing everything in our power to ensure that our business is back to 100pc capacity by next summer.

"With government support and all- owing for social distancing we would hope to get our smaller venues open between now and Christmas and push bigger venues to open by next spring and have our festivals up and running by next summer.

"We have opened the schools, now let's run some shows and start small - 1,000 capacity, 2,000 capacity. Let's get people back to work and give people something to look forward to."

Mr Desmond said workers in the entertainment industry are not looking for hand-outs, but they want to get back to work.

France is already looking at 5,000 capacity seated shows with people wearing masks and no social distancing, he said.What will bring back the concert industry is rapid testing where people will be able to show their "immunity passports" to get into gigs, concerts and sporting events, said Mr Desmond.

"Testing and immunity passports will allow 50,000, 60,000 and 70,000 people back into the likes of Croke Park, Electric Picnic and Slane," he said.

"In the meantime, there's nothing to stop smaller venues up to 2,000 from re-opening as long as social distancing is in place and there is Government support. It's time for a plan to allow for testing rather than waiting for a vaccine as there might never be a vaccine."

Asked to quantify the costs to his own business of Covid 19, Mr Desmond stated it runs "into the millions".

"It's not just about the money, it's about opening up the sector. People want to get back to work," he said.

In recent days, the Government has announced a €6m support scheme for the live entertainment industry.

"No one wants to be seen to be ungrateful, but it's a very small amount of money to cover a huge amount of people," Mr Desmond said.

Herald