July Stimulus: €31m package for cultural sector hit by Covid-19
Sector ‘will be among the last to recover’ from pandemic’s effects, says Minister
The Government’s package would ‘support and nurture’ arts and culture ‘through difficult times’
Theatres and concert promoters will be given Government help if they plan for live events that later have to be scrapped because of continuing Covid-19 restrictions.
Detailing a €31 million support package for arts and culture, Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht Catherine Martin said the sector had taken a “very particular hit” from the virus.
Cultural venues and events were among the first to be closed, “and they will be among the last to recover”, while social distancing restrictions will have a long-term impact on live events, she said.
The Government’s package would “support and nurture” arts and culture “through difficult times”, with more opportunities for paid creative and cultural activity.
In addition, there will be increased support for the Arts Council, TV drama production, live performance and specific measures targeted at musicians, the Minister declared. The €31 million package is on top of €25 million announced in June.
Ten million euro will be available to help venues and live music and theatre promoters by “de-risking” the cost of preparing new productions which may later have to be postponed or cancelled.
Money will be available, too, for film and TV drama. Ms Martin said: “Don’t stop planning to roll out live productions. It’s a type of risk-sharing for promoters. Plan and we will see how we can best support you.”
The next round of funding for the Sound & Vision applications via the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland will be supported by an extra €2 million to reflect broadcasting’s role in reliable news and information.
New Irish screen productions can qualify to share in a €3 million TV drama fund through Screen Ireland, while a €10 million culture fund will offer money to Creative Ireland to employ artists.
Artists will be supported to carry out broadcast, rather than live works, while money will be spent, too, to help musicians through new artists’ bursaries and arts activities in Gaeltacht schools through Ealaíon na Gaeltachta.
The Arts Council’s funding this year will rise to €105 million , some 40 per cent higher than in 2019, the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht declared.
A €6 million capital fund will “accelerate the redevelopment and renewal” of institutions such as the National Library, the National Archives, the National Concert Hall, the Abbey Theatre and the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork.
Saying it was “heartened” that the new Government had recognised the role played by arts and culture in society, the National Campaign for the Arts said Covid-19’s impact on the arts “has been profound and will be long-lasting”.
The Arts Council welcomed the extra help this year, saying it would be invested in more bursaries, commissions, projects and support for individual artists and arts organisations.
Training courses will be offered along with help for organisations to adapt permanently to the crisis , said the chair of the Arts Council, Prof Kevin Rafter.
Efforts will be targeted at “protecting jobs and livelihoods” and helping troubled organisations, he said. The arts have played a positive role in Irish life during the crisis and “will continue to do so as part of the national recovery”.
Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland welcomed the supports, saying the sector had seen unprecedented growth in the past decade, with its contribution to the economy going from €164 million to €357 million in a decade.
The Minister noted “a considerable proportion” of employers in culture and tourism had used the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, “reflecting the particular vulnerability these sectors”.