It is “insane” that Irish musicians can play festivals in the UK while people can’t put on a gig in a pub at home, according to the lead singer of The Academic.
Craig Fitzgerald is one of a number music industry representatives due to meet with the Arts Minister today to discuss the return of live music in Ireland.
A number of festivals are going ahead in the UK this summer and just last week, 5,000 people attended a Tom Jones concert in Belfast.
Meanwhile, the live music sector in the Republic has been largely shut down since March 2020.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, The Academic singer Craig Fitzgerald said the Government has ‘neglected’ the industry through the pandemic.
“Next week we are travelling across over to the UK to work and play music at Reading and Leeds, one of the biggest festivals and it is all going ahead as normal,” he said.
“It is just insane to think we will be doing that before we even have a clue if people can put on a gig in a pub or roadies and techs can get back to work.
“It is just insane that people’s livelihoods are coming back but it is not in the country they are living in.”
He said it is past time for the Government to set out a clear roadmap for the return of live music.
“The music industry is not a switch that you can just turn on,” he said. “People need planning. Venues have to be booked and people need to plan ahead in advance so if it was to be something like, oh yeah you can all go for it now, it would be a bit of nightmare.
“There should have been plans put in place for people to know what’s going on.
“There are gigs announced for September and November and people are now starting to feel … Electric Picnic was the big hope and now that is gone and that has worried people.
“Now it is like, is this all just going to be swept away from us now at this stage?”
The industry stakeholders are demanding a date for the full return of live music and the extension of wage subsidies beyond September.
Ferguson said the pandemic has been tough for everyone in the industry.
“Everyone has had to dig deep at this stage and I think it is just getting a little bit sour now because we are looking at our friends – people are going round travelling in the UK and playing gigs and something has to come back here now,” he said.
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Main image shows Academic lead Singer Craig Fitzgerald performing live. Image: Killian Ginnity