'Silent no more': Arts lobby demands reopening plan, will hold demonstration next week

Titled 'Daqshekk Siekta', or 'Silent no more', the demonstration will take place on Thursday 24 June at St George's Square

The Malta Entertainment and Arts Association (MEIA) will be holding a demonstration titled 'Daqshekk Siekta' (Silent no more) on Thursday 24 June, demanding that authorities give a sustainable reopening plan up till end of year.

The demonstration will take place at St George's Square at 7pm in accordance to the health & safety protocols in effect at the time of the event. Explaining the reasons for the demonstration, the MEIA said that it was left with no choice after government failed to accept its proposals for the industry.

"Considering the current realities with such as successful vaccine roll out as well and herd immunity as well as acknowledging the fact that public health remains a priority, there is no logical reason why the respective authorities did not accept MEIA’s reasonable proposals and keeping back such roadmap," MEIA said. 

"This does not reflect other EU trends where the data has showed over and over again that there is no correlation between a spike in cases and the arts and entertainment industry. In fact, all three waves of infections happened whist our industry was shut."

The Association maintained that it wants to safeguard the equal rights of all professionals in the arts and entertainment sectors without hindrance to their livelihoods. However, it insisted that everything must be done safely and legally.

"We are an industry that requires planning, so we have to know what will happen till the end of year from now. Of course, if the numbers go up for whatever reason, we understand that things would need to change."

As part of MEIA's national campaign on the matter, the Association asked that any events that will be held virtually or in person with limited capacity ought to be carried out under protest, with a statement to be seen on stage, at the venue or publicly read out before the performance. 

Last Friday, government announced that social events can start taking place on 5 July, but only fully-vaccinated persons will be admitted into these events.

Only sit-down events will be permitted for the time being so as to ensure social distancing and other COVID-19 preventive measures, while a risk assessment form will have to be filled out by the organisers for each event. 

In terms of capacity, these events will be limited to one person every four square metres. However, the maximum capacity at any social or cultural event will be capped at 100 persons.

This led to anger and frustration among members of the arts and entertainment industry. On her part, singer Ira Losco argued that the arts is a profession that people study and work for, with people investing a lot of time and effort to succeed in the industry.

In turn, it should be respected as a career on which people's livelihood depends on.

I have always liked to see life from as many sides and as many angles as possible. I try to understand and to be diplomatic. I do feel like some people need to understand what the artistic industry is going through right now. I have tried to be as clear as possible in this video. Thank you for your support!

Posted by Ira Losco on Tuesday, June 15, 2021

"Unfortunately our industry has been demonised. Why? Let me tell you why, and to this day I read this in the comments on social media platforms - because of an event that happened last summer. An event that took place at a hotel and of course a lot of cases came from there," she said, in reference to the Hotel Takeover Summer 2020 that took place last July.

She argued that the reason this happened wasn't because of the event, but because the airport was open to all travellers at the time, with significantly less controls in place.

Losco added that without controlled entertainment events, people are more likely to opt for underground events, with congregations of people on beaches and other uncontrolled areas.