26 April 2021
Statement from the Steering Committee of the National Campaign for the Arts with regards to the next phase of Government’s reopening of Irish society:
Firstly, we note and welcome the contribution of Minister Catherine Martin, Department of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on April 20th, 2021, and in particular the progress the Minister has made in relation to the proposed trial of Basic Income for artists and arts workers.
In advance of Government announcements scheduled this week in relation to the further reopening of society, the Steering Committee of the National Campaign for the Arts has written to the Minister seeking assurances that due consideration is being given to the entire arts, culture and live entertainment sectors within these plans.
We have asked the Minister to clarify that both PUP and EWSS arrangements for the arts, culture and live entertainment sectors, will be maintained at current levels until our sectors can once again open at full capacity.
It is imperative in the forthcoming announcements that artists, arts workers and arts organisations are provided with a clear and actionable plan, including indicative timelines, outlining the journey to full reopening of these activities, so that our communities can commence the path back to work and have sufficient time and suitable resources to prepare for the delivery of quality artistic, cultural and live entertainment experiences to the nation.
It is crucial that the plans and guidelines that are in development for the recommencement of live arts, culture and entertainment experiences take a holistic consideration of the entire artistic process. Creating quality artistic, cultural and live entertainment experiences takes time – time in planning, co-ordinating, casting, rehearsing, creating, developing, programming, marketing, promoting and presenting. It is imperative that plans are not wholly focussed on the ‘end product’ – the delivery of the final presentation of work to audiences – but also take into consideration the multi layered and time- consuming process which happens before final work can be presented.
As it stands, artists have no clear guidance as to when they can access rehearsal rooms, recording studios, workspaces etc and without the ability to access these vital places of work, artists will not be able to develop, rehearse or create the final presentations for audiences.
Arts workers and organisations have no indication as to when they will be allowed to work again and what kind of timeline they will be working to and the expectation that will be on them to programme, develop, co-ordinate, market, promote and deliver work to live audiences.
Venues, theatres, cinemas, arts centres, arts studios etc, remain in precarity with no indication as to when they can open and how long they will have to prepare their teams and their premises for audiences.
We have asked the Minister to ensure that the following be addressed in the next set of reopening announcements:
While NCFA fully accepts and understands that the virus is still a threat to public health and that ever-evolving updates to public health advice, the roll out of the vaccination programme, the global situation and other factors will determine exact timings for the recommencement of experiences with physical audiences, it is crucial that our communities are being considered as a whole and that an indicative timeline is provided so that initial planning can commence. It is the smaller, less resourced, independent organisations and artists that will lose out the most if sufficient planning time is not allowed for.
NCFA Steering Committee