Martin says supports will be available for panto operators if shows disrupted

Minister says a new €2 million fund will open on Monday to support this sector

Minister for Culture and Tourism Catherine Martin has said the "Government won't be found wanting" on supports for businesses impacted by Covid-19 measures. Video: Enda O'Dowd

 

Extra money will be found if necessary to support those staging pantomimes and other Christmas theatre events that might be affected by the Covid pandemic, the Minister for Culture Catherine Martin said on Saturday.

Asked if she believed pantomimes should go ahead given the incidence of Covid among the very young, Ms Martin said it was important to follow the advice of the National Public Health Advisory Team (Nphet).

Last week the Nphet advised that indoor gatherings for children should be avoided for the next fortnight, with events such as nativity plays, sleepovers, birthday parties, and playdates, being mentioned.

She said a new scheme, with €2 million in funding, would open on Monday to support venues and producers putting on pantomimes and other Christmas events.

Under this scheme commercial operators will be able to apply for up to 50 per cent of their costs back if the pandemic interrupts the production.

Ms Martin said the money was to help qualifying venues and producers where shows did not go ahead or where “it is not as packed as they had hoped it to be. Then there is money there to help them, and I will keep examining that, and add to it if needs be.”

“But you know, this is about protecting our children, and protecting public health,” she told reporters.

Ms Martin said she and the Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar, would be convening a meeting of the Forum on Tourism and Hospitality next week, and she would meet representatives of the live entertainment and cultural sector.

She said they may “move quicker than would have [previously] imagined, because of the changing situation.

“The Government won’t be found wanting on this. There have been so many changes just in the last forty-eight hours, and I think, as a Government, we have to assess the situation”.

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, said he was in favour of young children being asked to wear masks in school “if it is a step that helps to keep our children safe”.

He said we have to work to try reduce infection rates among young children and that the success of mask-wearing had been seen in other parts of society.

It was a call for the Minister for Education, Norma Foley, but he was giving his view because he had been asked, he told reporters.

“I think we have to work on the basis of the public health advice we get.”