Social welfare scheme for artists and writers open for applications

Artists can be exempt from jobseeker activities to ‘focus on their artistic work’

Musicians, dancers, choreographers, opera composers and circus and street performers are among the artistic disciplines who are included in the scheme. Photograph: iStock

Musicians, dancers, choreographers, opera composers and circus and street performers are among the artistic disciplines who are included in the scheme. Photograph: iStock

 

A social welfare scheme for self-employed artists and writers is now open for applications.

Under the scheme artists can receive Jobseeker’s Allowance for a year, and be exempt from participating in normal jobseeker activities in order to allow them “focus on their artistic work and to develop their portfolio”.

“They will be exempt from participating in the normal labour market activation activities for the first year that they are out of work,” a statement from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection said.

The scheme is an extension of a pilot project announced in June 2017 open to visual artists and writers. A review of the project recommended it should be established “as a permanent scheme in its own right and extended to include professionals from other artistic disciplines” such as those working in theatre and music.

Fostering creativity

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty said Ireland is “well known throughout the world for its unique contribution to all art forms”.

“Giving professional artists an opportunity to expand their creative work in a practical way is our way of acknowledging the important work that professional artists do,” she said.

“We know that creativity must be fostered and allowed to develop rather than imposing restrictions on the time needed to produce creative work to a professional standard.”

Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan said artists, performers and stage designers “deserve our full support particularly given the significant income challenges they can face”.

“The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht will work with the Arts Council and the representative bodies for artists from different art forms to develop an independent and objective validation process that will certify the artists’ professional credentials,” she said.

Conditions

In order to qualify for the scheme, artists must apply for and satisfy the qualifying conditions for Jobseeker’s Allowance including a means test.

They must be unemployed, capable of, available for and actively seeking work.

Applicants are also required to provide a certificate/declaration from their professional body as to their status as a professional artist. They must be registered as self-employed with the Office of the Revenue Commissioners and at least 50 per cent of their income should be derived from their art in the previous year.

Participants on the scheme can continue on a voluntary basis to avail of the supports of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection’s Public Employment Service.

Visual artists from Visual Artists Ireland and writers from the Irish Writer’s Centre have now been joined on the scheme by screen writers, film directors and film actors.

The theatre art form is open to actors, costume designers, theatre directors, set designers and stage designers. Musicians, dancers, choreographers, opera composers and circus and street performers complete the list of artistic disciplines who are now included in the scheme.