A LOCAL musician has called on the Government to offer more financial support to artists who have been out of work during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Recently, 150 artists wrote to the Northern Ireland Executive calling for “urgent financial support” to ensure the music industry survives.
Strabane singer Gavin Kelly has been off the stage for around four months now and he believes a little support from the Government ‘would go a long way.’
Speaking to the Chronicle he said, “I don’t think the arts in general have received enough support, if any.
“Being self-employed like many others, we had to wait around four months for support from the government, that’s four months without gigs, without income.
“There have been various support schemes both north and south of the border trying to help musicians, but with limited budgets and specific criteria, not everyone can avail of this support.
“I believe the UK Government just announced more support for arts venues but still nothing in the way of individual support specifically for artists, road crew or technicians who keep the entertainment industry alive.
“It’s times like these people rely on art and music to distract from reality so a little more support from governments would go a long way,” said Gavin.
During the lockdown, Gavin has been performing at the weekends using social media, but the singer recently played his first live gig in a restaurant in recent days, and said it was “fantastic to be back on stage.”
“It was great to be back singing to actual people as opposed to a phone,” said Gavin.
“Hearing a round of applause again was very heart-warming.
“I really enjoyed playing online for a few months, and I’ve enjoyed watching many others do the same.
“It was great for multiple reasons as it helped maintain a bit of normality.
“I’m used to a routine of rehearsing during the week then gigging at the weekend so it was good to maintain that way of doing things, albeit in a different format.
“Also many artists have taken the busking approach, using a virtual tip jar, and people have been very supportive and appreciative.
“It also led to some great collaborations, fundraising, and community spirit,” said Gavin.
As venues and musicians embrace the ‘new normal’ and a different kind of night life, Gavin believes it will be a long time before things
return to how it used to be.
He continued, “Artists are confused, venues are confused, and even the folks supposedly in charge seem confused.
“It will be a long time, probably well into 2021 before things get even close to normal again.
“I’d love nothing more than be out singing in packed bars with folks dancing and singing along but for now live music in pubs will be very different.
“It will be more of a background music vibe, and pubs are only now starting to open so we don’t know how it’s going to work – if it works at all.
“Hopefully the live music scene can recover. The world will be a dull place without it,” said Gavin.