Wednesday, 22 July 2020
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
115. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which she plans to assist with the promotion of cultural events with reference to addressing the impact of Covid-19; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17678/20]
116. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the degree to which she has already planned or plans to assist cultural activities with reference to promotion of Irish culture here and abroad, thereby assisting in the post-Covid-19 recovery effort; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17679/20]
118. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which she expects to be in a position to offer financial assistance towards bodies involved in the promotion of the arts or cultural events in the course of the next five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17681/20]
126. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans to assist with the development of the arts in its various forms with reference to local community-based groups and that such groups be specially selected for assistance and availing of their knowledge and experience of the arts at community level; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17689/20]
127. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which her Department directly or through the aegis of bodies under the remit of her Department continues to assist community-based groups and organisations involved in musical or theatrical productions nationally with a view to maximising interest in the arts at local level; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17690/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 115, 116, 118, 126 and 127 together.
Primary support for the arts in Ireland is delivered by the Arts Council, which is independent in its funding decisions under the Arts Act 2003.
The Arts Council established an Expert Advisory Group to make key recommendations which would support the arts through the Covid-19 and ensure that the sector recovered. In a report entitled Survive, Adapt, Renew,the Group made a number of key including a recommendation that additional funding of the order of €20m be provided to the Arts Council. The Group also made recommendations on how the Council should spend the additional funding to the best effect for the arts sector. The House is aware that the Government allocated an additional €20m to the Council, bringing its 2020 allocation to €100m and the Houses of the Oireachtas voted the Supplementary Estimate through earlier this month. The Arts Council has indicated that it will allocate a significant portion of the additional funding to bursaries and commissions to artists and arts organisations over the coming weeks and months. This was recommended by the Survive, Adapt, Renew reportwhich also included recommendations that the Arts Council:-
- Supports the arts sector in addressing the challenges of digital presentation and dissemination in the near and longer term, as well as in exploring new ways for people to make and engage with art in person.
- Works with the arts sector and other partners, including local authorities, to address the challenges of adapting existing physical spaces and exploring new ones.
In the meantime, my Department has supported a range of initiatives to bring cultural and creative content to the public during the period of restrictions. These include Culture Ireland'sIreland Performs initiative, Other Voices Courage, Criuniú na nOg, as well as the Hot Press Lockdown Sessions. These initiatives employed artists, musicians performing live as well as technicians and crew.
Last week, in response to the COVID-19 crisis I announced specific capital funding to facilitate the safe re-opening of theatres, arts centres and culture venues. The measures are designed to support arts and culture facilities in preparation for staff, artists and audiences returning work in line with the Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business and Return to Work Safety Protocols. The Guidelines for the Scheme and Application Form are available on my Department’s website.
On the broad level of supports, in order to help many sectors including the Irish music and events industry to overcome the unprecedented challenges posed by Covid-19, the Government has put in place a package of supports that includes direct grants, low-cost loans, the write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities. These measures are designed to restore confidence and further assist organisations in terms of their management and business continuity and in turn planning for the weeks and months ahead.
A number of universal supports in place for all sectors including the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme for employers operated by the Revenue Commissioners which has now been extended as has the Pandemic Unemployment Payment administered by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. In addition to these there are jobseekers benefit and jobseekers assistance schemes as well as Jobseekers Assistance for Self-Employed Artists.
In addition to the measures announced by the Government in the context of the July stimulus, the Government has also committed to bringing forward a National Economic Plan, to be published alongside the Budget in October, which will outline the Government’s plans to support the long-term sustainability of the economy. In line with the commitment in the Programme for Government, I will shortly appoint a taskforce to develop an approach for the recovery of arts and culture sector which will in turn inform the National Economic Plan.
117. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the mission statement of her Department with a view to setting precise objectives likely to be beneficial in the development and promotion of Irish culture here and abroad; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17680/20]
The mission statement of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is published in the Statement of Strategy on the Department's website at this link: . A revised Statement of Strategy will be developed by my Department in the coming months.