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13th Sep 2020

Deirdre O’Kane: Covid-19 has “devastated” the arts in Ireland

Jade Hayden

“In need of huge Government support…”

Covid-19 has all but ravaged events industries across Ireland. The arts industry has been hit particularly bad, as most theatres, gig venues, and comedy clubs remain shut, their operators desperately trying to navigate a means of reopening safely.

Alongside them are the performers and the artists, each of them unsure as to when exactly they’ll be returning to work, and what the scene will be like once they do.

“It’s been devastating at every level,” comedian and presenter Deirdre O’Kane tells Her. “All live work has completely wiped out as a result of the pandemic.

“This affects artists, performers, arts professionals, production staff, venue teams, festivals and many more so the impact can’t be understated.

“The arts were hit early and the recovery will be one of the slowest. The industry is in need of huge Government support if it’s to survive into 2021 and beyond.”

Unlikely many other artists and entertainers who have had their livelihoods threatened – and sometimes entirely taken away – Deirdre is one of few who have been able to maintain a steady stream of work.

Back in June, she co-hosted RTÉ Does Comic Relief, a one-off charity drive aiming to raise vital funds for communities worst affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Comic Relief was a first for RTÉ. Featuring a host of Irish comedians and personalities coming together to (virtually) do their bit, the programme raised over €6 million for Irish charities – a staggering amount of money showcasing the generosity of the Irish public.

Deirdre says that aside from the incredible amount of money raised, just hosting the show in general was a career highlight.

“It was exhilarating but also completely terrifying, truth be told!” she says. “I really enjoyed working alongside Jennifer, Nicky, Baz and Eoghan so that was a lovely camaraderie – which you definitely do need to get through more than four hours of live TV.

“The whole project was such a joy to do and hopefully a bit of light and a lift for the nation at the time so we will definitely look at the potential for another down the road.”

Comic Relief isn’t the only charity project Deirdre has been involved in this year. Since the beginning of the pandemic, she has leant her support to many projects hoping to ease the pressures – financial and otherwise – of Covid, her most recent venture being One4All’s upcoming Shop4Crumlin initiative.

Now in its sixth year, the campaign encourages shoppers to spend with the One4All gift card to give a little something back to the Children’s Medical and Research Foundation.

During the week of Shop4Crumlin, One4all will donate 50c to CMRF Crumlin for every transaction made using a One4all Gift Card in over 8,500 retail outlets nationwide.

Additionally, Penneys, Life Style Sports, Argos, Marks & Spencer and Diesel have partnered with One4all and pledged to donate an additional 50c to the CMRF Giggle Fund for all transactions made in their stores using a One4all Gift Card or Digital Gift Card between the 19 and 27 of September.

“Being a comic, I have to say the idea of supporting any giggle fund is very appealing,” says Deirdre.

“Knowing we’re supporting these young patients at Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin, and bringing them some joy and light through small celebrations during this particularly tough time, is truly a wonderful thing.”

One4all’s Shop4Crumlin fundraising initiative returns from Saturday September 19 – Sunday September 27. You can find out more about the campaign and how to get involved here.