Art. Music. Culture.

District is Ireland’s point for alternative culture. For submissions, advertising or if you’re interested in contributing contact editor@districtmagazine.ie.

The government needs to act now to ensure the Arts in Ireland survives the pandemic. Without intervention, artists and other workers will be left in the lurch and the industry may never bounce back.

The arts in Ireland is at a critical juncture. With over 55,000 citizens and their families dependent on work in the sector for their livelihood, the NCFA (National Campaign For The Arts) has called for nine key changes to ensure the survival of the industry.

In a press release today it has been confirmed that 89 per cent of NCFA members are living with financial uncertainty, with 91 per cent of arts organisations reporting a  €2.9 million loss per month since the pandemic emerged in March 2020.

Despite some gigs returning in small numbers, with the current restrictions turning a profit is increasingly difficult and all the cancelled events of the past six months have meant that those working in the industry have been left hugely out of pocket.

Without these artists, sound engineers, lighting staff and everyone else involved in the sector, Ireland would not be the vibrant and enticing place it is today. Many choose to provide valuable a culturally rich experience for people over higher paid careers, it can be a taxing industry at the best of times.

Alarmingly, whilst the Irish economy as a whole is set to shrink by 11 per cent, the arts sector will shrink by  -34.6 per cent and -42 per cent and it is projected to cost between €250m and €300m to Irish GDP.

Government support has been important for ensuring artists’ survival, but it has to continue and be increased in 2021 to ensure the sector bounces back.

The NCFA Pre-Budget submission has made calls for nine key measures to be introduced to ensure the Arts in Ireland survives the pandemic. These include:

  1. Ensure artists and arts workers are supported through the PUP and EWSS until mass gatherings are permitted again and cultural events can take place at full capacity. Ensure that the PUP remains at €350 for the Arts and Events sector. Ensure measures are brought in to allow for the blended income streams, yearly fluctuations, and short-term employment opportunities as well as reassessing the age restrictions to allow older artists who have continued in employment beyond the age of 66.

  2. Increase funding to the Arts Council to €135 million in 2021 with a view to at least doubling investment in the Arts Council by 2025. 
  3. Increase Funding to Culture Ireland to €10 million to continue strong connections with the UK and Europe in the context of Brexit, and globally to meet the demands, expectations and successes of Global Ireland 2025.
  4. Prioritise and expedite the trial for Universal Basic Income outlined in the Programme for Government to develop a model for UBI for all citizens over the lifetime of this government.
  5. Classify local authority arts spending as a mandatory requirement. 
  6. We support the call to commission a review of taxation practice as it relates to the arts in Ireland and internationally to make recommendations around the tax regime including an examination of VAT, gifting to the arts, and possible measures on artists’ incomes.
  7. Total insurance reform in the following key areas: recalibrate the Book of Quantum to reflect international norms and norms already established by the Court of Appeal; redefine and rebalance the ‘Common Duty of Care’ to require the occupier to take a duty of care that is reasonable, practical and proportionate; re-establish a Garda Insurance Fraud Unit; produce a schedule of forecast reductions for reforms.
    Encourage insurance companies to refund all public liability and employers liability insurances where there is no risk due to work being cancelled. Introduction of a state insurance scheme via IPB for the arts and cultural sector in receipt of state funding, which offers cover for those organisations who find that insurance product is unavailable and inaccessible to their needs.
  8. Transpose the European Union’s Directive on Copyright for the Digital Single Market into national law by June 2021 in line with all other European Union member states to ensure fair remuneration for online creative content.
  9. Honour the Programme for Government commitment to establish a cross departmental task force, led by the Arts Council, to protect and sustain the arts and culture sector through the COVID-19 recovery and beyond.

Read the full 2021 pre-budget submission here.

Photo: Senija Topcic

Words: Dylan Murphy 
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