Venues and artists ‘to receive new supports’ from spring

Range of measures promised by Minister to support night time live entertainment sector

Venues such as pubs and cafes will be offered grants of at least €10,000 to stage night-time events from the spring under new plans being worked on by the Minister for Culture and Arts Catherine Martin.

Ms Martin has also said applications for the artist’s basic income pilot could open as early as February with the weekly payment set to be in region of €325.

In an interview with The Irish Times, Ms Martin outlined her plans for 2022 including a new night-time economy which could see staggered closing times and increased late night transport, the recruitment of the first online safety commissioner, the first basic income scheme for artists and new proposals for the media landscape.

Ms Martin said she is progressing a scheme to support venues such as pubs, clubs and cafés to trial new events and activities at night which would also create new employment opportunities for artists. A particular focus would be put on new and emerging arts, she said.


“It is a multi-million euro scheme that we are working on. It is being developed in consultation with IBEC, representatives of cafes, the LVA and the Vintners too,” she said.

“Obviously this is post the Covid-19 restrictions but the goal here is twofold: it’s to support jobs and businesses in the night-time economy and but also to support the new and emerging acts. We could be looking at music, we could be looking at poetry slam nights, local theatre groups, traditional music, classical music, and of course, our electronic music.”

The Minister said the scheme will likely open in the Spring.

“We are looking at minimum grants of about €10,000 to support hundreds and hundreds of events with new acts.”

Night-time advisors will also be appointed around the country to oversee the development of the night economy.

“If we look at how far behind we are, look at Berlin where culture thrives at all hours, why does the city’s heartbeat have to end at midnight or one in the morning.”

In relation to extending public transport later into the night, she said she will be working with her Green party colleague, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan, to ensure routes are available.

Ms Martin is also working with the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee on proposals for staggered trading hours.

“We work very closely together on this and we’re both of the one mind… she opens the public consultation at the end of November. That consultation, I guess, would really examine how best to update the existing laws governing the sale and regulation of alcohol.

“We know that it’s a key ask from the sector but the consultation is essential because we must bring the people with us as well.”

A new pilot scheme which will provide a basic income for artists will also open in either February or March, she indicated.

“This is really a once in a generation landmark moment for the arts and I’m determined to see it through and see it. It won’t be based on a means test, it will be a non-competitive process. It will be available for as broad a range as possible those work for the arts.”

She said artists have sought a €325 weekly payment. The Government is still finalising the figure, she said adding: “I would expect it to be close to that.”

Separately, Ms Martin also said that the recruitment process for a new online safety commissioner will begin in the new year, as part of plans to publish the new Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill. It could take up to six months to finalise the appointment as the recruitment is happening through the public appointments service process.

“The single most important aspect of this legislation is that it will establish a new regulator which will have substantial powers to hold the platforms to accounts in terms of how their systems work, including how they handle complaints.

“There will be an online safety commissioner who will introduce binding codes… this will really be the first time that platforms will be held accountable for how they handle harmful content, such as cyber bullying.

Meanwhile, the Future of Media Commission has furnished its report to Government. She said she will meet with Taoiseach Micheál Martin shortly to discuss its findings.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times