Thursday, 21 May 2020
Covid-19 (Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht): Statements
Josepha Madigan (Dublin Rathdown, Fine Gael)
The Deputy speaks very quickly and I did not have time to write down all his questions, but I will do my best to respond. We had a culture debate last week during which I spoke about the arts in general and outlined in considerable detail the amount of funding we have given to the arts sector over the past number of years. People often talk about 2008 as a benchmark in terms of the amount of money going to the Arts Council, which was approximately €82 million at that time. My Department gave €80 million to the council this year and we had an overall 2% increase in culture spending. That budget was negotiated with the Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe, in the context of Brexit happening.
We are now in a situation where we have a Covid-19 crisis and, as the Deputy knows, a projected deficit of €30 billion this year and €14 billion next year. More than 1.1 million people are now availing of social welfare supports. That has to be taken into account. The National Campaign for the Arts, NCFA, and other arts organisations lobby the Government and my Department seeking more funding, and I understand that. I understand that every sector has representative bodies and it is their job to lobby Government. All I can say to the Deputy at the moment is that if I am still in situin my Department, and it is probably unlikely that I will be, I certainly will do all I can. I always have done so and I managed to increase funding significantly for the arts overall.