Livelihoods destroyed in performing arts

Sir, – In response to Michael Dervan's article "It's ruin out there and likely to get worse in the short term" (Arts, April 29th), may I ask your readers, many of whom are great supporters of concerts, opera and the theatre, to spare a thought for all the musicians, actors and technicians whose livelihoods have been destroyed by the arrival of the pandemic. The majority of performers are freelance and they are now looking at completely empty diaries, potentially stretching far into the future.

Physical distancing ensures that most venues may in the short to medium term be operationally and financially unviable.

A friend wondered when they would ever again attend an orchestral concert. The answer is only when it is actually considered safe for orchestral players to rehearse and perform together. This of course also applies to performers right across the arts.

I have to wonder how our fragile arts infrastructure, built up over many decades, will survive the impact of this pandemic. Germany, the UK and some other European countries have committed substantial emergency funding to support artists. Sadly, in this country the Government’s per capita support for the arts is well below the European average. We know that in planning our economic recovery support for the arts will inevitably take its place far down the next government’s priorities.


Yet we are all aware that the arts in the widest sense are of the utmost importance to the health of the community, provide substantial employment and make a huge contribution to tourism. The arts sector is going to look very different when we eventually ease the restrictions.

Let’s hope that it does not have to be permanently and irrevocably damaged and that the next government will give its survival serious consideration in its post-Covid economic planning. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.