Mr Durkan, a vocal advocate for the Sector to date, said the testimony from Sean Pagel from We Make Events NI at last week’s Committee meeting, set in stone the serious plight of the industry.
The Foyle MLA said: “It goes without saying that the Arts and Events Sector is one struggling to keep it’s head above water.
“It has been among the first and worst hit by the pandemic, this we knew- yet to date funding has in no way begun to scratch the surface of what is needed.
“Last week, Sean Pagel from We Make Events, presented a harrowing and indeed sobering report to the Communities Committee.
“It painted a picture of an industry on their knees and the reality of the crisis enveloping the 7,500 strong workforce- inclusive of sound, audio engineers and other technicians.
“Overnight the sector was brought to a standstill and they are yet to be given any indication as to when they can reopen.
“Given that the events industry is an extremely lucrative one, with music events alone contributing £90 million per year to the North’s economy, it makes good economic sense to provide adequate financial support.
“We have a wealth of creative talent in our small corner of the world, the exponential increase in creatives choosing to go full time self-employed in the last few years, is testament to a growing and profitable sector.
“However, that brave decision has been to their detriment following the onslaught of Covid.
“The newly self-employed making up 45% of the events industry, have been unable to access the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) and other support to date.
“That is a significant number of individuals left with zero income, struggling to provide for themselves and their families.
“The events industry has proven itself a lucrative crutch of the North’s economy in recent years, to choose not to save it now is unforgivable.
“To choose not to match support made available in England, will see the executive sleep walking into massive economic fallout.
“Not only that but it sets and unfair balance, putting events here at a notable disadvantage.
“Now is the time to envisage the sector as part of the recovery solution.
“After a difficult year, I have no doubt that once we return to some semblance of normality, live events and the escapism it provides will be at the forefront of people’s to do lists.
“The industry’s contribution to the local economy will be an integral boost that will no doubt see us through.
“It is essential the executive lay the foundation now to ward off collapse and invest in the long term, to ensure the events sector and those within it, can operate viably going forward.”