Performing arts venues in Galway are struggling to reach pre-pandemic ticket sale figures eight months after the lifting of restrictions.
Ongoing trepidation around Covid-19 has prevented a significant rise in ticket sales according to Pearse Doherty who is a producer at An Taidhbhearc Theatre. He observes that there remains a “general nervousness about going into crowded rooms; there’s a certain percentage of people who just don’t go out anymore”.
Caution around virus transmission has been especially challenging for ticket sales of theatres due to their audiences being predominantly made up of high-risk elderly people. Mr Doherty says that “theatre in Ireland in general is not attended by younger people which is a big challenge”.
The cost-of-living crisis is playing a role in the stifled resurgence of the live music industry according to Róisín Dubh co-owner Gugai McNamara. With soaring bills to contend with, he says that the gig-goer has become more “thrifty”. Mr McNamara states that gigs that typically attract a younger audience are becoming more difficult to market and he points out that “the cost of accommodation is insane in Galway so there’s that to factor in”.
Mr McNamara observes that Róisín Dubh patrons who are conscious of their spending are less inclined to go to a smaller gig as “if you’re only going to go to three gigs, you’ll probably go for something bigger”.
Consumer reticence around attending gigs has a disproportionate effect on less established acts according to Joe Kelly of up-and-coming Galway band Telebox. “A gig is a gamble for us but it’s also a gamble for the person paying” he says. Mr Kelly states that an act which has yet to garner a large following is unlikely to sell tickets “unless someone knows about you already”.
Despite worrying trends, some venues managers have a more positive outlook. Director of the Town Hall Theatre Fergal McGrath expects to “finish the year at 100% of pre-Covid business”. Mr McGrath believes that shrewd marketing will help the industry to surmount any obstacle and that “we have to be more sophisticated in how we engage with our audiences”.