Explainer: Why are performers protesting?

ireland
Protesters outside the Dáil today. Photo:/Collins
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James Cox

Performers, including dancers, actors and singers gathered outside Leinster House yesterday to protest against the ongoing closure of the performing arts sector due to Covid-19 restrictions.

What happened?

A socially distanced demonstration was held as part of the 'What About Us' campaign, highlighting the difficulties faced by the industry and the lack of Government supports available to performers.

What is their goal?

The group has called on Government to allow the performing arts sector to reopen after sports and other similar activities were allowed to do so this week.

“Not every child is sporty, not every adult is sporty. People get their kicks in different ways and that’s why a kick-dance is as important as a karate kick. Why speech and drama is as important as soccer and drills. But our Level 3 guidelines says differently,” Fine Gael TD Emer Higgins said, addressing Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.

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“This is a huge issue for dancers.We’re talking about denying them their passion, after they’ve already endured months and months of lockdown,” she added.

Ms Higgins has argued that dancers should be allowed to return to training in pods of one.

Results so far?

There has been some good news for the performing arts sector in relation to dance lessons.

Minister for Arts Catherine Martin said that while dance classes cans still not be held, schools can offer one-on-one dance training and individual instruction in Level 3.

She added that the Arts Council will draw up guidelines for dance practices that will be published next week.

The news for theatres, seen as the backbone of the performing arts sector, is not so positive.

Government confirmed that theatres would remain closed in December today, with the matter to be reviewed again in January.

There has been widespread criticism of this move, with some questioning why theatres must remain closed while cinemas were allowed to reopen this week.

Fianna Fáil Senator Malcolm Byrne said he was “extremely disappointed” at the decision, adding that he will continue to push for theatres to be reopened.

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