Culture sector needs Government help to survive, arts group says in 13-point recovery plan

National Campaign for the Arts launches ‘comprehensive and achievable’ proposals

Cancelled culture: among the many events called off because of coronavirus is this weekend’s Forbidden Fruit festival, at Royal Hospital Kilmainham, in Dublin

Cancelled culture: among the many events called off because of coronavirus is this weekend’s Forbidden Fruit festival, at Royal Hospital Kilmainham, in Dublin

 

The arts and culture sector will be the last to return to full capacity after the coronavirus lockdown and will need support to ensure its survival, the National Campaign for the Arts said today.

It has published a “comprehensive and achievable” 13-point survival and recovery plan to combat losses of €2.9 million a month in income and 19,000 days of paid work through “equitable financial investment”. The pandemic’s economic impact on the cultural sector is estimated at more than €10 million so far.

The volunteer-led organisation says the Government should invest an extra €20 million in the Arts Council this year, to support artists and arts organisations, and extend the pandemic unemployment payment to all freelance artists and arts workers affected by the Covid-19 crisis until arts and cultural events can take place again, among other measures.

“A failure to invest equitably in the arts at this crucial juncture in recovery planning will seal the decimation of an industry that asks little and offers much. There will be an irretrievable loss of wisdom and skills, and any recovery will be a journey that many, if not most, in the sector will be unable to undertake or sustain.

“Artists will be unable to create, arts workers will be forced out of the industry and likely never return, arts organisations will close their doors, and Ireland’s artistic output will stagnate.

“If we allow the arts to be left behind as we move to rebuild Ireland, attempts to restimulate the arts and culture sector down the line will be unachievable; there will be far too little left for any meaningful revival of the ecosystem that salves, sustains and sells our country.”

The 13-point plan calls for a full minister for culture in the next cabinet, and for the Government to commit an “equitable portion” of the European Commission’s structural funding to arts and culture.

The organisation would also like a capital investment scheme and other tax incentives, cancellation of rates for buildings used for mass gatherings, a partial refund of public-liability and employer’s-liability insurance, a commitment to protect and sustain venues run by local authorities, and simplified Arts Council grant applications.

It also calls for more promotion of Irish culture abroad in 2021, through Culture Ireland, and a clear road map for arts investment. In addition, the proposals back other European countries’ lead in developing a universal basic income for all citizens over the lifetime of the next government.

Earlier this month the Arts Council set up an advisory group to combat the fallout of the coronavirus crisis for the arts.