Major efforts have been made in the budget by the government to save the struggling arts from the state, after months of lockdown that now threaten the future of thousands of jobs.
In his budget speech, Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath pledged €50 million to help live entertainment businesses, along with another €50 million for the Arts Council, which will receive next year 130 million euros from the Treasury.
“Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on artistic, cultural and sporting activities. The spaces that have brought us together, often to celebrate some of our most talented people, are empty and silent for now,” the Minister said.
Often overlooked, the focus on the arts this year has been prompted by the jobs crisis affecting the industry where thousands of artists of all forms are now out of work.
And it will be one of the last to fully come back to life once the threat posed by Covid-19 has passed. Last night, the government’s measures met with a major wave of approval.
The extra money follows a strong lobbying campaign by the volunteer-led National Campaign for the Arts, representing 55,000 artists, and, separately, the Arts Council.
The Arts Council, which will enjoy its highest level of state support next year, is committed to supporting artists and arts organizations during the Covid-19 crisis and to ensuring that audiences “can engage in the arts”.
Requests for help from the council have increased during the pandemic, including from many people who have never asked for state help before. He must now decide how to distribute his aid.
The National Campaign for the Arts has welcomed the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) as it will be able to support establishments forced to close due to health restrictions.
However, the world of arts and culture is dominated by highly qualified and innovative freelancers with irregular and poorly paid work, who were arguably in an unsustainable situation before this blow.
Warning about freelancers, the campaign group said that breaching PUP earnings would allow artists and arts workers to earn €120 a week without losing payment.
However, the council said it was disappointed that the reduced installment payments would remain and was concerned about what would happen in April 2021 when the PUP was removed.
Epic, another campaign group for the industry, said the €50 million commercial live entertainment fund represented “the first time we know where the commercial sector has been recognized in a budget speech. “.
As the National Campaign for the Arts steering committee looked at the budget together on a Zoom call, there was a cheer when funding for the Arts Council was announced. Aileen Galvin, one of the eight members, said “above all, the prevailing feeling is that the arts are now mainstream”. Welcoming how Culture Minister Catherine Martin and the government have supported the arts with ‘solid investment’, she said: ‘The arts have proven their necessity during the pandemic and seen and heard our sector and our communities included in government briefings and accepted as part of the news cycle is extremely encouraging.
Get the latest business news and commentaryREGISTER HERE