Irish Shows Association Statement on the Impact of Covid-19 on Shows
A year ago, we were faced with the reality of recommending to our members not to run their shows in 2020 due to the evolving situation with the global pandemic. We have held off for as long as possible in making a statement this year, as we were hoping to get some clarity from government on the inclusion of events in the National Framework for living with Covid-19. That clarification and advice has not been forthcoming due to the ever-changing nature of the situation. We are looking forward to receiving some clear guidance.
After consultation with our members, the board of the ISA has no choice at this time but to advise our member shows not to run in 2021, until such time as the appropriate authorities deem that it is safe to do so. The Irish Shows Association is the representative body for agricultural shows. Our primary function is to support our member shows and to advocate on their behalf. We are not empowered to make a decision to cancel all shows or otherwise. In the Republic of Ireland, we are currently under level 5 restrictions. Even at level 1 in the current framework, the maximum number of people for an outdoor gathering would be 200-500. This would not be viable for most of our member shows. The regulations are different in Northern Ireland, but the dates for reopening are still somewhat unclear. We will continue to liaise with the relevant authorities on both sides of the border and advise our member shows accordingly.
At all times, the ISA has continued to provide insurance to our member shows through our group scheme and will continue to do so through 2021. We are grateful to the Department of Agriculture for its continuing financial support to offset the cost of insurance.
We will be bound by the expert public health advice and the prevailing regulations. The ISA will continue to advocate on behalf of our members to obtain clear guidance on when and how shows can return. Like so many other event organisers and community groups, we find ourselves in limbo waiting for a clear roadmap to emerge. As show organisers need a reasonable amount of time to plan and organise their events, we are stepping in to provide advice based on the information that is available at the moment. This advice may be updated as regulations change.
It is going to be a long and winding road to get shows back on our calendar, but that is certainly our aim and we will work tirelessly to that end. We hope that the relevant departments will work with us to allow for a safe resumption of shows. Our shows are such an integral part of rural communities and the economy, along with being a social outlet for so many of our supporters and volunteers throughout the country.
We are extremely grateful to the Department of Rural and Community Development for the funding it has given shows over the past years. The €600,000 awarded in 2020 is still ringfenced for 2021 shows if they are able to run. We hope that this valuable financial support will continue, as there is no doubt that shows will need financial assistance to get up and running again.
Whatever happens throughout 2021, we will continue to keep in touch with our members. If the guidelines allow, we would love to see our members running something within their communities to keep the name of their show alive and to thank their loyal sponsors and volunteers. We would encourage everyone to support the local businesses who have supported our member shows over the years.
We will not be printing a yearbook this year, but any shows that are able to run will be published on our website once they are confirmed.
For the shows that are unable to run this year, our advice is to keep in touch and plan for next year. We extend our good wishes to our members, friends and supporters. Stay safe everyone and we look forward to seeing you all again on the other side of this crisis.