Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.41 11 Jun 2021


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A festival organiser has said 'too many maybes' over outdoor live events mean the sector may not fully return until next summer.

It comes after the first concert with a live audience since the start of the pandemic took place in Dublin on Thursday.

Some 500 people attended the socially-distanced trial event at the Iveagh Gardens, which saw people placed in a pod with those they bought tickets with.

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Concert-goers were requested to wear masks at all times other than when they were in their pods.

A contact name and number was also required from all ticketholders to assist with contact tracing in the event of a confirmed case of Covid-19.

However PCR/antigen testing was not a requirement for the event.

Brian McDermott is organiser of the Kaleidoscope Festival, and told The Hard Shoulder what happened on Thursday is not really a return.

"To hear it being dubbed as 'live music is back' is probably a stretch, because it's certainly not back when you look at what the industry was, what it should be and where we'd like to go

"And I think the opportunity lost is more around the fact that we've no plan, there's no operational guidelines and there's absolutely no outline of what the conditions will be in order to get full capacity shows back online again".

'Best case scenario'

Mr McDermott said while the event on Thursday had its merits, it is not something that can be easily replicated.

"As a format, it's worth nothing to anybody really - other than a nice evening out for 500 people in the Iveagh Gardens.

"This Sunday is the hottest day of the year, I'd say the capacity of 500 people in the Iveagh Gardens will probably be a lot higher.

"So it's not really anything that could stack up financially, operationally or otherwise for an industry to look at as some sort of future live music."

And he said the industry has to pick up the pace of its planning.

"There's very little leadership - we're not getting a plot for the return to live events, we're not getting any conditions, the guidelines have not been approved, agreed or anything and they haven't been put out.

"Whilst our vaccine programme is picking up pace, we're not picking up pace in terms of planning.

"If we keep going at the pace we're at, next summer is the best case scenario".

Antigen testing

Antigen testing was not an aspect of the trial event, which Mr McDermott said he can't understand.

"In this country we do seem to have an issue with antigen testing, whereas other countries have embraced it and had a bit of success with it.

"There are logistical concerns around it: it's a big ask to go and test up to 50,000 people before a show and whatever else.

"But there's also been a big response from the pharma industry in providing these tests, in getting them down to low prices and making it quite viable".

He suggested a mixture of antigen testing and the vaccine passports used for air travel could be implemented.

"The greatest support that the Government could give this industry right now is clarity, and I think they're just scared of clarity after having a few bad experiences along the way with COVID.

"What we're doing right now is we're just pulling from hospitality guidelines - we're looking at what's happened there and we're going 'Maybe we could do this, maybe we could do that'.

"But too many maybes really is the problem, what we need is clarity around outdoor shows, clarity around shows that are under 5,000 people [and] that are over 5,000 people".

'Too many maybes' means big scale concerts unlikely until next summer

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

Pictured (l to r) Niamh Talbot, Brian and Connor Cusack, and Leah Brennan arriving at the Iveagh Gardens to see James Vincent McMorrow perform the first in a series of live pilot concerts. Picture by: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie

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Antigen Testing Brian Mcdermott Iveagh Gardens Kaleidoscope Festival Live Events The Hard Shoulder

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