Support for music venues a lifeline after long silence

February 21st, 2021 11:50 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Jason Lee and Anna Mieke playing at Levis Corner House, in Ballydehob in December.

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TESTIMONIALS from those involved  in the pilot Live Performance Scheme – which was launched last December across music venues nationwide – have given it the thumbs up after it saw live music return to three venues in West Cork.

De Barra’s in Clonakilty, Connolly’s of Leap and Levis Corner House in Ballydehob all participated in the scheme which was funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media and saw all their gigs recorded and later streamed online.

Under the scheme, €5m was allocated to assist commercial promoters and producers to employ artists, musicians, performers, technicians and other support staff in live performances.

A new report by the Live Music Collective – a group of 23 venues and producers set up last summer – outlined how the scheme benefitted not just musicians, but also technicians and crews.

Julie O’Sullivan, a performer and crew member who worked for the ‘Alive in the Cracks’ series of gigs in Levis Corner House said it was a wonderful experience for her.

‘Being surrounded by live music, spoken word and all the craic that comes with the Levis’ crew is invaluable. I am incredibly grateful to the Department of Culture for the chance that have given me to continue my pursuit of a careers,’ she said.

Another singer, Molly O’Mahony described those series of gigs as ‘an anchor in a storm’ and said that after nine months of cancelled opportunities and setbacks, it was something to set her sights on.

Meanwhile, Justin Grounds – an artist and sound engineer –  said it was a honour to be part of the De Barra’s team in running this series of live streamed gigs.

‘Everyone on the team was professional, respectful and kept excellent health and safety etiquette so that we all could work in a safe environment. Ray Blackwell managed the series and the team brilliantly and it felt great to be back behind the console making music happen in De Barra’s,’ said Justin.

It was a similar story for Alice Jacquier, who came on board as production manager for filming the live performances at Connolly’s of Leap.

‘As a venue booker and concert production manager, I hadn’t even seen anyone play an instrument in front of me in nearly 10 months. It meant the world to me to be able to be back assisting on production again. The crew at Connolly’s are some of the hardest working, tight knit people I’ve worked with all over the country,’ said Alice.

The Live Venue Collective is now setting its sights on the next phase in the supports for the live sector, which has been committed by Minister Catherine Martin.

‘The positive impact and progressive nature of the pilot live performance support scheme has been a glimmer of hope in a time of darkness and despair for so many in the live music sector,’ said a spokesperson.

‘The fund has financially lifted venues, artists, technicians, crews and employees from the brink and positively impacted the mental health of all who engaged with the scheme. Simultaneously, it helped create truly world class musical moments that will forever document this unprecedented time in Irish history.’

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