Government approves €130m as Arts Council warns of arts jobs in crisis

€130m funding for the Arts sector, a day after the Arts Council reports a quarter of the jobs in the sector at risk in 2021
“Janus Masks” by gemsling is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Arts sector happily welcomed today’s Budget 2021 announcement of €130 million in Arts Council Ireland funding. 

The live entertainment sector is also to receive €50 million, and there will be a range of other supports for the entire arts sector. 

“This investment will support artists and arts organisations through the Covid-19 crisis and ensure that people across the country can continue to engage with the arts in 2021,” tweeted Arts Council Ireland.

The Arts Council had requested €135 million in their pre-Budget submission so this is actually €5 million shy of their request. 

Yesterday the Arts Council published a report explaining their reasons for the €135 million request. Their forecasts for the Arts sector came as a hard slap.

According to the report, from 2019 to 2021, between 2,000 and 2,700 arts jobs could be lost in Ireland as a result of Covid. This would represent roughly a quarter of the Arts workforce in Ireland.

In 2021, the recession in the Arts sector could be between -18 and -43 percent, compared with +6.6 percent for the rest of the economy, according to the latest EY ‘Economic Eye’ forecast.

In 2020, the decrease in the number of jobs supported by the core arts sector is projected to be around -15.5 percent (around 1,600 arts jobs at risk). This compares with a 9.7 percent decline for the rest of the economy.

According to the report, some 58 percent of total arts sector employees were in receipt of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme or the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (as of 24 August 2020).

On a side note, People Before Profit’s aspirations to have the Pandemic Unemployment Payment restored to a minimum of €350 per week were slashed during the Dáil meeting last week. 

People currently receive between €203 and €300 a week if they lost their job as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

A Government amendment which effectively neutered the original motion was instead approved by members by 86 votes to 62.

EPIC working group had publicly stressed the importance of the restoration of PUP payments but did not comment further on it on social media once the restoration failed.

On the bright side, self-employed workers can continue earning up to €480 per month without losing their PUP payments, according to the new Budget.

There will also be a new Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), which will offer a targeted, timely and temporary sector-specific support to businesses forced to close or trade at significantly reduced levels as a result of restrictions imposed on them in response to Covid-19.

There could also be an extension of the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme through 2021, should it be required.

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