NCFA, on behalf of the Irish arts and culture community, calls upon Government and political parties to ensure that the arts sector is not left behind in the huge task of recovery planning for Ireland.
9 April 2020
Statement from the National Campaign for the Arts (NCFA), speaking on behalf of the arts community of Ireland, more than 23,000 artists, arts workers and arts organisations across the entire breadth of arts and cultural disciplines.
Firstly, we wish to recognise the tireless efforts of our nation’s exceptional frontline workers, who are putting their lives on the line every day to ensure the health, safety and security of our families and communities. We thank them unreservedly for their dedication and commitment. We hope that some of the work that we have created, and continue to create, is providing solace, respite and hope in their darker days. When this crisis abates, and their personal recovery begins, it will be our honour to ensure the stories and sacrifices of our frontline workers are indelibly etched into the artistic and cultural narrative of our nation.
Furthermore, we recognise the hundreds and thousands who have lost jobs and whose jobs are in jeopardy across multiple sectors. In particular, we identify with those in lower paid, short term contract jobs; the majority of artists and arts workers also exist within this bracket. We share their fears and concerns and we hope our work is providing some level of relief, escape and succour as we navigate these exceptional times together.
In response to the impact of COVID-19, the arts community presents a unified voice through NCFA to ensure that the arts sector is not left behind in the huge task of recovery planning for Ireland. The value of arts and culture and the role and work of artists, arts workers and arts organisations must be recognised by Government as equal to and not less than other sectors such as tourism, hospitality and sports. The arts will be vital in the rebuilding of our society and our economy and we as a community are absolutely committed to contributing in every way that we can. In order to do so our sector requires properly considered, equitable investment and practical support from Government and agencies.
The COVID-19 crisis has created significant challenges for the arts and cultural sector. Following a survey by the Arts Council of almost 300 arts organisations across the country, it is estimated that organisations will lose €2.9million in income per month of shutdown and the economic impact of the shutdown to date is estimated at over €10 million. Over 12,000 events have been cancelled with 2.4 million audience engagements lost. The direct impact of this on the country’s 23,000 artists and arts workers is still unknown.
Our sector was one of the first to be impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and will be one of the last to return to full capacity by the time the crisis has passed.
Following an online meeting of almost 400 artists and arts workers, NCFA is outlining the particular challenges we have collectively identified for our sector and are offering some potential solutions in the short, medium and long term to ensure that Ireland’s arts and cultural industries can remain strong and viable.
NCFA calls on Government to:
1) Establish a stabilisation fund for arts and cultural organisations so that the sector can survive this crisis and emerge ready to lead in rebuilding our national spirit.
2) Commit to immediately investing an additional €20 million in the Arts Council for 2020, to support artists, art workers and arts organisations to survive and recover from the COVID-19 crisis. This should include considerable increases to Project Awards and Bursaries that have significant impact for artists, arts workers and arts organisations, and ensure a range of other supports for artists and arts workers that respond directly to their needs.
3) Ensure clarity and openness in engaging with the sector to define the criteria for any further funds or initiatives.
4) Ensure that artists, arts workers and organisations can plan for next year by immediately guaranteeing that at least the same level of increased investment in the Arts Council and Culture Ireland will be committed for 2021.
5) Support artists and arts workers affected by the COVID-19 crisis through the Pandemic Unemployment Payment by extending this until the end of the year, and follow other European countries in developing a model for Universal Basic Income for all citizens over the lifetime of the next government to safeguard all citizens from future crises.
6) Provide a clear roadmap to how arts investment will be doubled by 2025, including a commitment to double investment in the Arts Council and Culture Ireland over the same period, who are the agencies who directly support artists and their work.
7) Ensure that there is a full Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in the next Cabinet and that the Minister hires an advisor or advisors from the arts and culture sector.
Arts and culture are cornerstones of our society, creativity is vital to our health and wellbeing. Culture and creativity are helping people through this crisis; people are looking to the arts for inspiration and consolation. So that the sector can remain viable, it is imperative that investment in artists, arts workers and arts organisations in Ireland is safeguarded and not diminished to the point of decimation; that the creativity, innovation and multifaceted skills of artists, arts workers and arts organisations will be utilised as a key component in the rebuilding of our country and economy.
We look forward to discussing these issues with Government, political parties, the Arts Council and Culture Ireland.