As co-ordinator’s of our ‘Purple Flag’ town status, and a member of the Chambers Ireland ‘Towns’ sub-committee, Ennis Chamber has actively engaged with the Night-time Economy Taskforce, with input into the Chambers Ireland Night-time Economy Taskforce submission.
It was therefore with great interest that we read the report, published this week and welcomed by Minister Catherine Martin TD, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, who established the Taskforce.
Highlights of the Night-Time Economy Taskforce Report include:
Minister Catherine Martin TD, welcomed the recommendations which were noted by Government on September 15th.
The Report contains 36 proposed actions across a range of departments, agencies and the Night-Time Economy sector itself and covers a number of initiatives and pilot projects including:
Minister Martin said: “Night-time culture sees creativity burst into life in towns and cities. It is where we dance, sing, play music but also where audiences come together and sustain local economies and livelihoods. All that was put on pause during COVID-19. This new report looks at ways to reignite the Night-Time Economy and culture, especially so given the devastating effects of the pandemic on live and arts events. Improving night-time life for audiences, venues and performers will help our recovery. But there is an opportunity to enrich our night-time life with new options, positioning us alongside other countries where a myriad of offerings await patrons after dark.
“It is important that we protect and sustain this part of our economy – particularly as we emerge out of the pandemic. I see the actions in this Taskforce report as part of that wider discussion around overcoming obstacles which exist and creating opportunities for a more vibrant night-life in our cities and towns. I will work with colleagues to deliver on these and we have to look at this Report as a starting point for the future development of the Night-Time Economy and Culture – not the end-point.”
The Taskforce, which was made up a wide range of government departments and agencies, the Lord Mayor of Dublin and Cork and Give Us The Night, examined a broad range of challenges facing the development of a vibrant night-time culture and economy including regulations, licencing laws, transport, and diversity of cultural activities and committed to finding practical solutions to help our cities, towns and villages which have already faced so many challenges, find and develop new opportunities.
The Minister added, “The electronic music and nightclub sector is an integral part of the Night-Time Economy and our culture and it is important that it is supported and recognised. I understand the frustration, as it has been one of the hardest hit during this pandemic, but I hope this Report will be a welcome step forward as we reopen in line with public health guidance. I would also like to thank the Taskforce and all those who contributed to this process.
“The advice that was published by Government on 31 August set out a roadmap for the recovery of live entertainment through September and October. In this context, I am also delighted to announce today that a pilot nightclub event will take place on 30 September in The Button Factory in Temple Bar and I hope that the learnings from this will help the sector as we head towards a full easing of restrictions in October.”
The Minister continued:”There are also solid building blocks in this Report– in the area of planning, for example. I and my colleagues Minister O’Brien and Minister of State Burke in the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage are committed to hosting a workshop with the sector and other key departments and agencies to discuss solutions from this report.”
Modernisation of Licensing
The Minister of State at the Department of Justice with special responsibility for Civil and Criminal Justice, Hildegarde Naughton TD, spoke at the launch on the proposed modernisation of licensing, as outlined by Minister Helen McEntee in Justice Plan 2021: “My department has been actively engaged with the Night-Time Economy Taskforce looking at innovative approaches to support and develop a vibrant, diverse night-time culture and economy in Ireland. Reforming and modernising our licensing law is an important part of how we do that. Some of our licensing laws date as far back as 1833 and need to be modernised and reformed to reflect the economy and society of today.
“Today, Government has approved the drafting of the General Scheme of a Sale of Alcohol Bill 2021, delivering on the commitments we set in the Justice Plan 2021 and the Programme for Government. The outdated Licensing Acts, Registration of Clubs Acts, and the Public Dance Hall Act 1935, will all be repealed and replaced with updated and streamlined 21st century provisions relating to the sale, supply and consumption of alcohol in licensed premises and registered clubs. This will radically reform, streamline and simplify our licensing laws.
“I am determined that this reform will be developed with a supportive approach to businesses, and the interests of public health, consumers and communities will be central to its implementation.”
Sunil Sharpe, Give Us the Night, also spoke at the launch event:”The publishing of this Report is an important milestone on the road to change for the Irish night-time industry. It has been a challenging process at times, but we are happy with the direction it is going and have particularly enjoyed our engagement with the department and Minister Martin, who have taken time to understand and really try to address the issues at hand.
“This is the beginning of a rebirth for domestic nightlife, which if done right can increase the public’s interaction with their local city or town and open up new opportunities for a considerable part of our community. Ireland still does some of the basics well, but from a culture and entertainment point of view, has been running very dry in recent years at night, to the point where we have seen the complete disappearance of venues and events in many parts of the country.
“The night-time industry should work for all businesses and venues, and obstacles to this need be removed. That won’t all be done overnight and there are still many challenges ahead that all need careful attention. I believe we can meet all these challenges head on, and get them right. Nightlife can work for everyone, it will just take some extra work, determination and a bit of compromise here and there too.
“The main thing is that we create a more organised modern model, on a par with our European counterparts, and who knows, maybe even a bit better than some of them. The changes we need to make in Ireland will not be extreme, they will simply just mean doing things a bit differently, being a bit more flexible, and ultimately placing a bit more trust in night-time businesses, venues, performers, workers and the general public. We need Ireland to be a desirable destination for tourists, sure, but enhancing the quality of nightlife for those who live here must be a top priority.”
Arts & Culture
Liz Meaney of the Arts Council said: “Towns and cities have been hollowed out by the pandemic and this report is especially welcome because it will help address the forthcoming challenge of rebuilding those urban centres. We all know that artists revive communities. We also know we have an acute shortage of workspaces for artists. The Arts Council is currently in discussion with various partners about a workspace plan – and the taskforce’s findings will help with this work. On Friday night (September 17th) we welcome the introduction of a number of special pilot events as part of Culture Night. The report also highlights the need to pay particular attention to improving accessibility for everyone in all venues and across all activities. This is a priority for the Arts Council and the need for investment has been clearly highlighted when we think about both artists and audiences. Today’s report also aligns well with the Arts Council’s spatial policy which will be launched later this year.”