Musicians, entertainers and stage crew are facing into a mortgage and loan crisis amid lockdown restrictions, an industry group has warned.
That’s the stark warning from the Music & Entertainment Association of Ireland (MEAI) which represents around 5,000 struggling performers, road crew and others who said: “Workers in our industry are at greater risk of losing their businesses and homes unless systemic payment breaks are reactivated.”
They are the latest group to react with dismay to Taoiseach Micheál Martin's warning that hospitality will not reopen until mid-summer.
Elaina Fitzgerald Kane, president of the Irish Hotels Federation, said the tourism community was shattered to learn of the tentative timeframe for reopening.
A survey carried out by MEAI shows that 21.2 per cent of its members are struggling to repay their mortgages and 39.2 per cent are having trouble repaying their business loans while 58 per cent have problems paying household bills. Some 20 per cent have had to seek help for mental health issues.
Spokesman Matt McGranaghan stated: “The sector is bracing itself for another year of not being allowed to work with restrictions on numbers for gatherings indoor and outdoor set to go beyond the summer.”
MEAI are urging the Government to reintroduce systemic payment breaks to help those who are struggling to meet their repayments at this time.
The European Banking Authority (EBA) introduced guidelines for widespread payment breaks during the first lockdown in April 2020 which helped over 220,000 people in Ireland.
“The EBA reactivated its guidelines for payments break on the 2nd of December 2020 but Irish banks and the Government declined to avail of the opportunity” said Mr McGranaghan.
At the time, the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI) said that Irish banks did not intend to avail of the EBA’s reactivation of relaxed rules and that banks would continue to implement a “case-by-case approach to support those customers adversely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic”.
MEAI met with the BPFI in January to discuss why the Irish banks had not reintroduced the payment breaks offered by the EBA.
“We were told that banks didn’t feel the need was there for widespread breaks to be given. But not availing of the EBA guidelines means that payment breaks on a case-by-case basis could negatively impact on a person’s credit rating,“ said Mr McGranaghan.
The industry has been under continuous lockdown since the March 12th, 2020 and will be one of the last sectors to reopen which is now unlikely to happen until 2022.
The Music & Entertainment Association was founded in June 2020 to give a voice to the sector and has almost 5,000 members.