Wednesday, 22 July 2020
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
32. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of trainees in the live action film sector who qualified and were accredited as a result of such training; the categories; the number of trainees who are now employees of film production companies in receipt of public funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17395/20]
The Government supports the continued growth of the audiovisual industry and considers skills development as a key facet of this growth. Recent years have seen a firm focus on skills development and career progression rather than on training. Section 481 tax relief requires beneficiaries to provide opportunities for training and skills development in the course of production. Changes were made to the administration of Section 481 in April 2019 and Screen Skills Ireland now has a role in assessing certain ‘Skills Development Plans’ required as part of the section 481 process. Where eligible expenditure will exceed €2 million, applicants must develop a comprehensive Skills Development Plan with Screen Skills Ireland, outlining planned training and skills development initiatives. They are encouraged to undertake a skills needs analysis to ascertain not alone the skills needs of the production and/or the company but also the needs of the individuals engaged and the wider screen sector. Training and upskilling is encouraged across all levels of the production and new frameworks distinguish between new entrants, trainees and upskillers. As part of this process, Screen Skills Ireland consulted with the Screen Guilds and developed resources for producers to capture skills activity data, including outcomes and impact. Since April 2019, over 140 different projects have been certified by my Department with just under 1000 skills development participants engaged on these projects. About 60% of skills participants were engaged in ‘Feature Film’ and ‘Television Drama’ categories of eligible projects and most of the remaining 40% were engaged on animation projects.
Screen Skills Ireland is working with Screen Guilds to develop a competency framework for all ‘below-the-line’ roles in the sector. This will support the Section 481 skills requirements, identify current and future skills needs and support future progression opportunities. Screen Guilds of Ireland represent 23 crew guilds and 2,500 crew members.
33. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if the Film Industry Stakeholder Forum will be convened which was recommended in 2018 by the Joint Committee on Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to address disputes and issues in the industry (details supplied); if it will be ensured that all relevant stakeholders, particularly employers in receipt of public funding or tax reliefs and employees who have worked in the sector, are invited to attend and that stakeholders who refuse to attend will no longer receive public funding or support; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17394/20]
The Deputy is referring to the Report of the Joint Committee on Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht entitled Development and Working Conditions in the Irish Film Industry, published in July 2018.
Recommendation 4 of that Report called on the Irish Film Board (now Screen Ireland) to reconstitute the board's film forum, with an independent chair, to allow all stakeholders in the sector to meet and work together to develop mutually beneficial solutions for the industry. In December 2018, Screen Ireland reported on the work it had undertaken to the Joint Committee explaining that it was not possible to constitute a forum as not all the stakeholders referred to by the Joint Committee were prepared to meet as a single forum. In May 2019, my predecessor took part in a debate in this House on the Report. In the interim, it had been suggested that the film forum would be used for airing grievances. The Minister explained that the purpose of the forum in the first place was to allow stakeholders to come together, in a collaborative and inclusive manner to exchange ideas and to develop solutions for the good of the industry and that it would be inappropriate for a State Agency to bring stakeholders together to air disputes or to express their general dissatisfaction with one another. There are formal state mechanisms for the resolution of Industrial Relations issues, including the Workplace Relations Commission.
Screen Ireland funding and Section 481 funding is allocated and paid to producers and I can confirm that the representatives of producers – Screen Producers Ireland and Animation Ireland- were not among the stakeholders unwilling to attend a forum.
Over the past number of months, the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has been conducting an audit of the audiovisual industry and has accepted submissions from stakeholders on employment practices and procedures in the Irish Film and Television Drama Production Sector. The WRC is examining these submissions to assess any issues arising and may make recommendations. I keenly await the outcome of that process.