High insurance costs may affect Ireland’s ability to attract international artists, says promoter

Peter Aiken expresses concern high costs with playing here may deter big acts from abroad

Ireland’s ability to attract top international music acts could be threatened by continuing high insurance costs in a world where new music venues are coming on stream and fans are willing to travel to see their favourite acts, music promoter, Peter Aiken has warned.

Mr Aiken said that while the live music industry has recovered well from the impact of Covid-19 and tickets sales last year for major stars like Garth Brooks were strong, he was concerned that insurance costs in Ireland might see some major international stars opting to play elsewhere rather than here.

“We are a little bit sheepish saying it because every other industry is struggling because of the cost of living but live music is back and concert tickets are flying. There is a great gra in particular for Irish music like Lankum, the Mary Wallopers and it’s kids that are going and tickets sales are very strong.”

Speaking in Cork at a press conference to announce Rod Stewart appearing at the Live in Marquee, Mr Aiken instanced his experience when he brought Stewart to the 3Arena in Dublin in November when compared to bringing Stewart at the same show at the SSE Arena in Belfast in December.


“To insure Rod Stewart at The Point [3Arena] when I did it in November cost me €10,000 – that is almost €1 per person but to insure it in Belfast was £215 – I don’t know what it is about the North – maybe they are just used to different things happening to them – nobody ever claims in the North for anything.”

Mr Aiken said that he believed a compensation culture still exists in the Republic and that claims are adding to public liability insurance costs as he singled out Supermacs founder, Pat McDonagh as someone who was fighting to combat such a culture and reduce insurance premiums.

“The guy in Supermacs has done a great job to highlight it. But the judges aren’t as quick any more to issue [awards] and the insurance brokers are now fighting [bogus claims]. It was a bit of a racket between the insurance brokers and the lawyers in trying to settle but they are now fighting back.

“It is expensive – I don’t know if you heard Eddie Hearn [boxer Katie Taylor’s promoter)] on the radio this morning complaining about Croke Park. It is expensive – it is costly to do stuff [in Ireland]. The Point is a costly venue to rent and stadiums are dear,” he said.

“And the world is a much bigger place [in terms of venues] now than it was 20 years ago – you look at Saudi Arabia and Dubai as proper concert venues, they’ve built proper stadiums there – look at the World Cup and how fans were willing to travel to Qatar for that.”

Asked how much longer he hopes to run the Live at the Marquee series in the Cork Docklands, Mr Aiken said it all depends on what happens in terms of the immediate development of the area which is earmarked by Cork City Council for housing.

“Every year we say it may be the last, but we keep going – until there is a clear plan what they are going to down there, we won’t know but it could go for a few more years yet – Live in the Marquee has been great for me, and it’s been great for the city.”

“I never thought when I started it back in 2005 and I had Brian Wilson and Diana Ross when I was sort of bailing out the City of Culture, I never thought back then that I would still be going 18 years later but over 1.2 million people have been to see concerts there.”

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times