23 July 2020
The National Campaign for the Arts (NCFA) cautiously welcomes the Government’s July Stimulus Package announced today. The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the arts has been profound and will be long lasting. The Stimulus Package will support those employed by arts organisations, but does not go far enough to support the freelance artists and arts workers who make up the majority of the arts and culture sector. NCFA looks forward to seeing the breakdown of further supports for the arts and culture sector in the coming days, including the breakdown of the additional €26 million arts sector fund announced in today’s Stimulus Package.
While the continuation of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) is welcome, NCFA are extremely concerned that the proposed decreases will have a disproportionate impact on freelance artists and arts workers whose work will not resume until a vaccine is found and cultural events can take place at full capacity. Many of these freelance artists and arts workers earned well below minimum wage before the crisis began and are especially vulnerable.The proposed changes to the PUP do not recognise the precarious nature of the employment conditions of many freelance artists and arts workers.
NCFA welcomes the extension and evolution of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and reduction in the top rate of VAT which will allow arts organisations, arts workers and the artists they engage to begin to plan their recovery and devise ways of bringing our work to audiences across the country. This will be a lifeline for a sector which was first to close and will be among the last to return.
NCFA’s plan for the Survival and Recovery of the Irish Arts Sector was published on 27 May setting out 13 urgent actions to restore the arts & culture sector. Through the efforts of our members and our ongoing campaign, 6 of those 13 actions have now been delivered yet there is still more to be achieved. Those include commitment by Government of an additional €20 million to The Arts Council to respond to the Covid -19 Crisis, an extra €5 million for the the Department of Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht, streamlining of the Arts Council application process for arts organisations for 2021 funding, the announcement of a capital grant scheme for arts organisations, the extension of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the extension of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme.
We acknowledge the positive engagement of the Department of Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht, the COVID-19 Oireachtas Committee, The Arts Council and representatives of the various political parties. NCFA looks forward to further engagement with our stakeholders to deliver the outstanding recommendations of our Recovery and Survival Plan for the Arts and Culture including increased arts funding for 2021 to all statutory agencies (including €110 million for the Arts Council and €10 million for Culture Ireland), insurance refund and reform, a review of the tax regime to encourage philanthropic giving and a ring-fenced amount of EU funding for Arts and Culture. To assist in delivering these we call on Minister Catherine Martin to hire an arts advisor with deep knowledge of the sector. You can view the full 13 point plan on the NCFA website here.
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