Actor Aaron Monaghan

'The loss of talent and experience within the industry is incalculable'

Renowned actor and director AARON MONAGHAN reflects on how the pandemic has devastated the arts sector in the fourth of our series in support of the ‘National Campaign for the Arts’.

THE Arts isn’t about saving lives. The pandemic showed us the true heroism of frontline workers. Not enough praise can be hailed upon them.

But during the lockdown it was The Arts we turned to, whether it was our leaders offering us solace with poetry (and movie references), or our need to stay sane and stave off the boredom with an endless supply of movies, tv series, music playlists or books.

The solace I took from this was the notion that, for the same moment, the entire world was conscious, perhaps for the first time, of the value and importance of The Arts.

Our industry, a struggling one to begin with, was largely decimated by the effects of Covid-19, and it will be one of the last sectors to return properly. We need crowds to do what we do, whether it’s play music in a pub or concert venue, or tell a story or series of jokes in a theatre.

With the cancellation of thousands of events, many thousands of artists and arts industry workers have been left vulnerable, their livelihoods completely gone. With no clear end to the pandemic or closures in sight, many have had to leave the industry entirely. The loss of talent and experience within the industry is incalculable.

But with every crisis there is opportunity. Resilient artists are finding innovative ways of producing work for pandemic times, or bringing their work online. This creates opportunities for new art forms and perhaps will attract newer and wider audiences in the long term. Most importantly though, artists have been planning: developing, devising, hatching, creating and incubating new work.

There will be a serious explosion of excellent work next year. For the past few months I’ve been working with other actors, writers, directors and companies, creating and adapting new work that can be viewed online or will tour within restriction guidelines. Last week, two plays I directed were turned into films, or a new hybrid art form of Theatre/Film. I am beyond excited to see them streamed online in the coming months. So whether it’s new art forms, or a torrent of excellent art-work, the future, particularly for Cavan Arts, looks bright, as long as it is valued, and supported of course.

I hope this pandemic has reminded us of the true worth of The Arts. And, to ensure that they will continue, I hope everyone will buy a ticket.

Aaron Monaghan is an actor from Cavan and Artistic Director of Livin’ Dred Theatre. He is about to start shooting a new feature film in Dublin.