Wednesday, 17 February 2021
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
229. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if consideration will be given to a special one off support for new businesses (details supplied) that were still developing their product at the onset of Covid-19 and were expecting to trade in early 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8616/21]
The July Stimulus and Budget 2021 provided a significant package of tax and fiscal measures to build the resilience of the economy and to help vulnerable but viable businesses across all sectors. The measures introduced have been critical in assisting businesses to survive the hugely challenging situation brought about by the pandemic.
As part of these measures a COVID-19 funding package of €85 million was provided by my Department last year to support the sport sector. €2.83 million of this funding package was allocated to Golf Ireland and funding for individual golf clubs is being delivered directly by Golf Ireland through COVID-19 grant programmes for affiliated clubs. While I understand that the closing date for grant applications has passed, the club mentioned by the Deputy may wish to contact Golf Ireland to see if it can assist in any way.
230. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if a local authority can submit multiple applications up to the maximum of €250,000 or just one single application to that value in relation to the reimagining our outdoor public spaces scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8629/21]
235. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the reason the decision was made not to use the €15 million proposed for the two-year outdoor public space scheme to pay artists and performers who are without work for almost a year and need funding to survive and to perform in existing cultural spaces. [8822/21]
237. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if funding for the outdoor public space scheme is entirely new funding; if not, if funding will come from an existing budgetary allocation under the vote for her Department; and if so, the budgetary allocation concerned. [8824/21]
238. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the reason the features of the outdoor public space scheme will require local authorities to consult with Fáilte Ireland on the proposed project but includes no requirement to consult with the local community in the case of each project before it is developed to ensure local imagination and the local creative and cultural needs are at the heart the scheme; and if local consultation will be included as a feature. [8825/21]
239. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the reason for the decision in February 2021 to announce funding only for reimagining outdoor public spaces at a time when existing indoor venues are struggling; and her views on whether supporting existing venues and events workers should be a priority. [8826/21]
240. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the reason the features of the outdoor public space scheme will require local authorities to consult with Fáilte Ireland on the proposed project but includes no requirement to consult with experts and professionals from the events industry; and if a commitment will be given to ensuring events industry professionals are consulted in all projects aimed at making public spaces more suitable for holding events. [8827/21]
241. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if a cost-benefit analysis was conducted into the outdoor public space scheme before funding was announced; and if so, if the result of such analysis will be published. [8828/21]
242. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the reason the decision was made to respond to recommendation 9 of the report of the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce by ignoring its recommendations to also provide support to indoor cultural spaces and to establish a regional project fund and privately operated venues fund; and if she also plans to deliver on these recommendations. [8829/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 230, 235 and 237 to 242, inclusive, together.
I announced thepilot Outdoor Public Space Scheme 2021 last week. The genesis of the scheme is Recommendation No 9 of Life Worth Living- the Report of the Arts and Culture Recovery Task Force.
The Scheme as advertised provides that a local authority can apply for a capital grant of up to €250,000 for a single project at a funding rate of up to 90%.
The pilot scheme was developed in consultation with the local authority County and City Managers Association, as the Local Authorities are best placed to understand the individual needs of the communities they serve.
The scheme is intended to fund local authorities to adapt, equip or otherwise improve public spaces for cultural and events activities, taking account of public health guidelines and of the needs of the local arts community. Outdoor public spaces that can provide year-round use can improve wellbeing and contribute positively to the public realm. The support will allow each local authority to adapt, equip or otherwise improve public spaces for cultural and events activities. The new scheme will take account of public health guidelines and of the needs of local arts and entertainment communities. Ideally projects will respond to the challenges associated with COVID-19 and support the recovery of the creative, cultural, entertainment and events sector as well as being future-proofed from a health and safety perspective.
The Public Spending Code requires cost benefits analyses to be completed for projects over €20m and as this scheme will not reach that threshold, such an analyses was not therefore required.The scheme is designed to deliver speedy results in order to support live performances as soon as it is safe to do so, and within any potential future restrictions on outdoor events.
Funding for the scheme will be delivered from within existing resources of the Department.It will not come from the allocation of €50 million made in Budget 2021 for the live performance sector. It is however part of a comprehensive suite of measures to support the cultural sector in response to the impacts of COVID-19 on the sector. It is also designed to align with similar schemes being developed by Fáilte Ireland to address infrastructure for outdoor dining. These initiatives have significant potential to enhance the public realm in local authority areas. They link to the wider work of the Night Time Economy Taskforce and will potentially contribute to the longer term regeneration of cities and towns across the country.
231. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the breakdown of the Fáilte Ireland adaption grant; the number of applicants that applied by county; the number of grants that were successfully processed; the number that were declined; the number that are still outstanding pending further information; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8639/21]
The COVID-19 Adaptation Fund for tourism businesses is administered by Fáilte Ireland and I have referred the Deputy's question to them for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.
232. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she will consider a real-time voucher scheme as an alternative to the stay and spend scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8640/21]
The Stay & Spend Scheme commenced on 1 October 2020. Its purpose was to provide targeted support to businesses within the hospitality sector impacted by continued restrictions.
The Stay and Spend scheme was devised at a time when there appeared to be a steady downward trend in infection rates and there was an expectation that the re-opening of the economy could be sustained uninterrupted. Public health restrictions have had the effect of impeding the operation of the scheme as originally envisaged.
The Scheme is due to operate until 30 April but flexibility exists for the Minister for Finance to extend its operation in 2021 beyond that date. The Government will monitor how matters develop over the coming months and the role that the scheme might play, and consider if any changes need to be made.