“We can create some breathing space for creative people to flourish”

A new social welfare scheme that supports self-employed artists in Ireland has launched.

The scheme enables artists to “focus on their artistic work and to develop their portfolio,” for 12 months while also receiving job seekers allowance.

Artists on the scheme are exempt from normal job seekers activities for a year to focus on their craft. With the frequent closures of cultural spaces and increasing financial pressure on artists this is a welcome announcement for those operating in the industry.

Already available to writers and visual artists on a pilot basis, the scheme has now extended the invitation for applications to musicians, dancers and costume designers amongst others.

Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan said artists “deserve our full support particularly given the significant income challenges they can face”.

To avail of the new scheme, artists must apply for and meet the subsequent criteria for job seekers. They should currently be unemployed, capable of, available for and actively seeking work.

Eligible applicants are required to confirm their status as a professional artist with a certificate or declaration from their professional body.

In a statement The Musicians Union of Ireland’s Graham Macken hailed the scheme as a “significant breakthrough” for musicians.

SIPTU’s Arts and Culture sector organiser Karan O’Loughlin said, “This is a positive step forward on the path to recognition of the professional status and value of performing artists in Ireland.  However, we also need a broader discussion about the working lives of artists and their capacity to have longevity and dignity in their careers”.

Words: Staff Writer 
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