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No gigs economy is rock bottom: Indie band New Pagans go from six shows a week to seeking driving jobs to make ends meet


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New Pagans

New Pagans

The New Pagans

The New Pagans

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak

PA

New Pagans

A local indie band guitarist has warned the lack of financial support from the UK government and the Stormont Executive could spell the end of a whole generation of musical talent and the music industry as we know it.

New Pagans guitarist Allan McGreevy says he is actively seeking employment in a new sector because he has no alternative now - he's gone from six gigs a week to looking for driving jobs.

The musician from Newcastle, Co Down, said he wanted to speak out on behalf of those in the music industry, workers who have been left to the "back of a very long queue" by those in power.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak came under fire earlier this month after suggesting musicians and people in all walks of life are "having to adapt" to the consequences of lockdown.

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Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak

PA

Rishi Sunak

Allan says he is having to do just that after his work ceased literally overnight back in March.

"I was booked to do a gig on St Patrick's Day and lockdown had already been implemented in the south of Ireland," Allan explained.

"I phoned around the places where I was booked to play that week to check what was happening and all of them told me they were closing up and therefore no gigs would be taking place.

"Then, when things were beginning to re-open in July, I was slowly starting to take bookings again but remained extremely wary.

"A bar is not the safest place to be during a pandemic."

The married father-of-two said he felt stuck between a rock and a hard place.

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The New Pagans

The New Pagans

The New Pagans

"It really felt like a battle of needing to go to work to provide for my family and at the same time trying to keep myself and others safe."

"The whole situation really has put a massive strain on the whole industry" he continued.

Prior to the lockdown in March, Allan would have played an average of six gigs per week including his own cover sets and on tour with New Pagans.

"I've lost out on a lot financially this year and unfortunately there hasn't been the same safety net from the government for our sector". It was announced in July that Northern Ireland was set to receive £33m from the UK-wide arts support package but not all the money has been released.

This is having a direct effect on the livelihoods of those in the music industry and has prompted an inspiring wave of affected individuals to speak out as part of the #wemakeevents campaign.

"We all pay our taxes, like everyone else, so why are we being treated differently," added Allan. "Music is all I have known from the age of 13, all of my qualifications are centred around it so now having to apply for vacancies is really tough.

"I've applied for driving positions as driving goes hand-in-hand with gigging but I'm yet to hear anything back yet.

"Realistically, I think the government need to put together another furlough package just to keep the wolves from the door and give people in the industry a bit of a chance.

"The music industry brings in so much revenue compared to other sectors.

"If people see their favourite band is playing in Dublin or in Belfast and that's the nearest gig to them, they're going to pay the flight or ferry crossing to come and see them play.

"They're going to book accommodation and, they are likely to eat out, shop, you know it all adds to the tourism industry and everyone benefits from it, it's a win-win scenario. If music isn't believed to be a proper job by the people in power, then live music and gigs are not going to be coming back anytime soon."

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