Thursday, 29 September 2022
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
The night-time economy task force report was published in September 2021 and contained 36 actions across a broad range of issues associated with the night-time economy, all with the aim of increasing the diversity of events, increasing cultural opportunities for families and other age groups into the evening and look at new ways of encouraging innovation and creativity in the night-time economy. The Minister, Deputy Catherine Martin, launched the night-time economy support scheme, NTESS, on 22 June this year, in support of two recommendations in the report of the night-time economy task force, namely, actions 1 and 12. The scheme has an overall allocation of €4 million to provide support for cultural activity in pubs, nightclubs, cafés and other suitable licensed and unlicensed premises during off-peak times. The scheme was developed in consultation with key stakeholders in the night-time economy including the Licensed Vintners Association, LVA, the Vintners Federation of Ireland, VFI, the Restaurants Association of Ireland, RAI, IBEC and Give Us The Night.
The aim of this scheme, which is now closed, is to encourage increased footfall in our cities, towns and villages in off-peak times and to open up existing venues to activity in the night-time economy, as well as providing artists with paying gigs and customers with a more alternative, diverse and inclusive night-time offering. I was really encouraged by the response to the scheme, which saw over 470 applications for funding processed with well in excess of 2,000 events being rolled out in cities, towns and villages right across the country. The events range from live music, DJ nights, comedy nights, dance, theatre, literature and poetry, as well as art and photographic exhibitions. The venues are diverse and as well as events in pubs, nightclubs, cafés and restaurants, we have galleries, retail outlets and rehearsal spaces all turning into lively venues for night-time activity.
As the Deputy will be aware, €6 million has been allocated in next year's budget for the implementation of a range of measures to support the recommendations of the night-time economy task force, and we hope to see more innovative pilot projects developed which will build on the momentum generated by this scheme.
I thank the Minister of State for his response. It is important that the State and his Department promote alternative activities at night. We have a solid night-time culture in Ireland, but it mostly revolves around alcohol and pubs. There are many other things we are absolutely excellent at and it is very important that funding streams go towards the promotion of music, comedy, literature and, as the Minister of State mentioned, art and photography, among other things. We have an extraordinary story to tell in towns and villages right across Ireland. That is why the funding the Minister of State has announced and the scheme that has been implemented are so crucial.
I have to compliment the Minister of State, and the Minister, Deputy Catherine Martin, on measures such as the special exemption order changes. There are also things being implemented under the Sale of Alcohol Bill, which will have an impact on the night-time economy.
I agree that we have to ensure there is a more diverse and inclusive range of events in bars, cafes, nightclubs, art centres and retail outlets across the country. Some examples include the Circus Factory, which pitched events in Cork, the Yamamori Tengu in Dublin, folk concerts in St. James' Church in Kerry and the Birr theatre and arts festival. Windmill Lane Recording Studios had a range of different artists. The National Leprechaun Museum of Ireland hosted a range of events.
I welcome the remarks of the Deputy on his support for the work of the Ministers, Deputies Catherine Martin, McEntee and Donohoe, on special exemption orders, which support the night-time economy. A lot of the recommendations are being implemented and led by the Minister, Deputy Catherine Martin, across a range of areas. For example, action 11 regarding Culture Night resulted in 50 late-night event taking place. There is also progress on licensing legislation.
This is a cross-government issue because, as the Minister of State will appreciate, it crosses different doors in Government Buildings. The promotion of alternative events and so on comes down to venues. There is a role for local authorities to play in the delivery of such spaces, whether indoors or outdoors. We all know, given our change in approach to expenditure in the Department of Transport, that we are spending at a ratio of 2:1 in the provision of public transport. Within that includes the pedestrianisation of spaces, which leads to public spaces being available that were not heretofore available for these sort of cultural events. Any outside-the-box thinking in the Department of the Minister of State and other Departments to further push the agenda to provide space would be welcome. I am thinking of places in Swords, in my constituency. Malahide village green had a significant sum of money put into it for a public outdoor space which could and does host cultural events.
I agree with the Deputy. Local authorities need to think beyond the traditional things that they fund. The scheme gives them and the local economy a complimentary benefit in terms of the ability to develop different spaces and provide capital investment. I share the Deputy's remarks and we need to see that engagement.
In fairness, the night-time economy action plan and task force happening across Government, between justice, arts and culture and finance, is resulting in better co-ordination and we are seeing that impetus and focus of the night-time economy, which has delivered. Some 472 applications were received for the recent fund and over 2,000 events were held. We are seeing that momentum and we need to underpin that. From a Chief Whip's perspective, I am aware that the legislation on licensing is a priority for the Minister, Deputy McEntee, and is key to unlocking one area of the night-time economy. We also need to continue the momentum on a diverse range of events which the Deputy has referenced, as well as getting local authorities to look at this from a capital perspective.