U2 and Sinead O'Connor were among hundreds of Irish artists to sign an open letter calling for increased government support for the Irish live events sector. 

Live events have ground to a complete halt since March 12, when the Irish Government introduced the first measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus on the island. 

The letter, signed by hundreds of Ireland's most prominent musicians, calls for an immediate return of the €350 weekly Pandemic Unemployment Payment for those working in the live events industry. 

Around 35,000 people work in the Irish live events industry from full-time workers to part-time workers and virtually all of them have been laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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The open letter also calls for increased funding for the live entertainment sector proportionate to a grant recently awarded to the Arts Council. 

Finally, the letter asks that the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce established earlier in September to give due consideration to the commercial live events sector. The Taskforce was established by Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht Catherine Martin to protect and sustain the Irish arts and culture sector during COVID-19.  

"If government support doesn’t come then the curtains will close, joy will be lost, the music will fade, the parades will stop, the children’s giddy laughter at the panto will be no more, and the cherished memories created in muddy festival fields will be a thing of the distant past," the letter warns.

"We are highly skilled professionals, we are essential businesses and services, we are musicians and artists, carpenters and creators, we are stagehands, technicians and experts, we are sounds, lights and visuals, we are tears, laughter and gasps of excitement.

"We are the Christmas panto, we are concerts, we are festivals, we are food fairs, we are parades, we are conferences, we are exhibitions, we are theatres, we are dance, we are national celebrations & state visits. We are the best nights of your lives." 

The letter claimed that the Irish live events industry contributes €3.5 billion to the Irish economy on an annual basis and warned that an "impossibly bleak winter approaches" for professionals in the sector. 

"The workers at all levels of this vital sector have no prospects of earning a living in the foreseeable future, so the supports need to be appropriate and unprecedented in order to address the dire financial situation facing almost every single person and business.

"We were the first industry to shut, and we will most likely be the last one to fully reopen," the letter speculates.

The letter was signed by a host of household Irish entertainers, including Des Bishop, Picture This, Tommy Tiernan, Christy Moore, and Daniel O'Donnell in addition to Sinead O'Connor and U2. 

A number of politicians, including Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty, and entertainment venues, including the Olympia and Gaiety Theatres, have also signed the open letter. 

Association of Irish Festivals & Events (AOIFE), Association of Irish Stage Technicians (AIST), Entertainers Ireland Stand Together (Éist), Event Industry Alliance (EIA), Event Industry Association of Ireland (EIAI), Event Industry Ireland (EII) and several other entertainment associations also implored the Irish Government to support the live entertainment industry. 

You can read the open letter here. 

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