For immediate release: October 13, 2020
Following the presentation of Budget 2021 by Minister Paschal Donohue and Minister Michael McGrath, the National Campaign for the Arts (NCFA), the volunteer-led movement representing 55,000 artists, arts workers and arts organisations in Ireland, welcomes the significant investment announced for the arts sector today.
The €130 million investment in the Arts Council for 2021, as well as the €50 million investment in the live events and entertainment sector, demonstrates a clear commitment from Government to ensuring that both funded and commercial arts can survive, recover and thrive in 2021. The announcement of the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) will provide vital support to arts organisations closed as a result of pandemic restrictions, and the increase in funding to Screen Ireland and the extension of the Section 481 Regional Uplift Scheme will ensure that film and television production can continue to employ Irish artists and arts workers and contribute to the economy. NCFA also welcomes the establishment of the Ministerial Group for Insurance Reform chaired by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and await the outcome of their work in relation to the arts where urgent action is needed.
It is important to note however that the arts sector has many talented artists and freelance arts workers who have not been accounted for in today’s budget. While NCFA welcome the PUP income disregard which will allow artists and arts workers to earn €120 per week without losing the PUP, we are disappointed to see that the reduced tiered payment rates are still in place, and are hugely concerned about what will happen in April 2021 when the PUP is phased out. The Government’s Living with Covid plan extends to the end of 2021, and as we now know, depending on the evolution of the Covid virus, we could remain in crisis for even longer. Even at Level 1 of the Living with Covid plan, arts events are still hugely restricted, affecting employment levels across the arts sector.
“Through tenacious, solution-based grassroots work by more than 40 local NCFA constituency groups, along with the ongoing work of the NCFA Steering Committee, and the hard work of many other arts organisations and groups across Ireland, artists and arts workers have at last been embraced as an intrinsic part of Irish society, no longer outliers. With this significant investment from Government, the arts, in all their myriad forms, will continue to contribute to Irish community, society, economy and recovery. There is much yet to be achieved, but today is a positive and hopeful day for Ireland’s artistic, cultural and creative communities” Angela Dorgan, Chair of NCFA
NCFA wishes to recognise the work of Catherine Martin TD, Minister for Media, Tourism, Art, Culture, Sports and the Gaeltacht, and her Department colleagues, for ensuring that the needs of the arts sector have been communicated and addressed at all levels of Government and for making good on the commitments made throughout pre-budget dialogue with NCFA.
The road ahead will bear many challenges for us as a society. While there is much to welcome in today’s budget, for so many of our citizens the future is uncertain. Our vulnerable and elderly are isolated, our young people are facing diminishing opportunities in learning, working, travelling and connecting. Our collective mental health is under siege, our health services and healthcare workers are under immense pressure. The inequalities in our society have become starkly apparent. Our inherent need to physically connect with each other has been all but wiped out. The arts community stands together as one, committed to supporting all the people of our nation through rich and diverse cultural and artistic experiences that can and will help us all to safely navigate these extraordinary times.
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