The Live Entertainment Industry

27 February 2017

We don’t normally think of live entertainment as an industry in itself. In fact, sometimes events can be regarded as an inconvenience locally while the benefits to the economy are often overlooked. No doubt some events do cause considerable inconvenience for locals at the time, however, there can be a lasting ripple effect on the local economy. 

People in the industry feel that the live entertainment industry is often overlooked and not always respected as the viable and tangible industry that it is. They also feel that arts and entertainment are treated as second class by government in terms of support and funding. 

Overall arts funding was up by €18m in last year's budget and was increased across all the main agencies and cultural institutions, including an additional €5m provided to the Arts Council. While people involved in the industry feel this is far from enough, it is easy to see that at a time when housing, health and others areas are in such dire straits, spending on arts could be seen as a luxury we can’t afford.

Research commissioned by former MCD promotions executive Justin Green, Fáilte Ireland and IMRO shows that the Irish economy benefits by €1.3bn from live entertainment per annum.  It supports over 8,700 jobs and it is estimated that major events generate an extra 3.1m bed nights.

Part of the reason that live entertainment tends to be overlooked as a serious industry is that it is difficult to quantify. Economists need hard economic data and tend to ignore industries which are difficult to measure.

Some facts and figures

  • Over a 12-month period 3 million people attended live events such as music, theatre and exhibitions, and a further 400,000+ came from Northern Ireland and overseas.
  • Most overseas visitors came from the UK (156,000), the US (40,000), Germany (11,000) and Italy (9,000).
  • Every €1 spent on a ticket is worth an additional €6.06 of revenue to the wider economy from indirect spending on accommodation, restaurants and pubs etc.
  • The figures also do not take into account the estimated 100,000 plus people who attend free music events all over the country and no doubt also spend considerable amounts related to those events.
  • The 3.4m tickets sold in the Republic of Ireland breaks down as 2.2m for music events, 860,000 for arts/comedy/theatre and 293,000 for attractions and exhibitions.
  • Box office spending with Ticketmaster alone was €169m.
  • The highest indirect spend across all sections was €95m on food and drink, and €95 on accommodation, followed by €82m on gig related merchandise. 
  • People attending live events also spent €72m on shopping, €59m on transport within the country and €45m on other attractions.

Tourism and the live entertainment industry

Live music has always been an important part of the Irish experience in pubs and local venues but festivals such as Cat Laughs in Kilkenny, Cork Jazz, Electric Picnic in Laois and our own Wexford Opera Festival are world class events. Large venues such as 3Arena, Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Croke Park and Aviva host international stars throughout the year.

Recognising the importance of the industry to tourism, Fáilte Ireland invested €3.5m in 246 festivals last year as festivals attract more visitors and benefit all aspects of tourism and the overall economy.  Festivals and events, whether huge famous ones or local hometown ones give people a reason to come, a reason to stay and a reason to spend in our economy.

People who may come to an area initially for an event often come back for holidays and further visits having experienced the feel good factor of the event.

Wexford and the South East Region

Wexford, Waterford and Kilkenny have a wide range of venues for live entertainment events.  Waterford has the Garter Lane Arts Centre and the Theatre Royal. Kilkenny has many intimate venues and of course Nowlan Park which has hosted many international superstars.

Wexford town is home to the National Opera House which not only hosts the Wexford Festival Opera, an international cultural event, but also holds a wide range of events all year round. In recent years, the Wexford Spiegel tent has become one of the largest multi-genre festivals in Ireland.

Enniscorthy has the restored Atheneum and there are many summer festivals held in towns and villages around the county. There are also many pubs and clubs providing year-round live entertainment. Wexford also has several drama and musical societies providing top class entertainment locally.

There is no scarcity of live entertainment in Wexford and the South East and this compliments the other attractions the South East has to offer for example natural amenities and historical sites.


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