Thursday, 1 April 2021
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
126. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the analysis her Department has carried out into the financial impact of Covid-19 on lighting, sound and audio visual engineering companies working in the entertainment sector (details supplied); her plans to increase the grant funding levels provided under the music entertainment business assistance scheme in line with the levels offered to comparable businesses under the small business assistance scheme for Covid to take into account the high overheads faced by these companies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17732/21]
I am acutely aware of the challenges facing those who rely on live performance to sustain their livelihoods on foot of necessary public health restrictions. The Government's response to the impact of the pandemic on the sector and the economy generally is comprised of a broad range of supports delivered across a range of Departments. The Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme and the COVID-19 Restrictions Support Scheme form the principle elements of the Government's response. The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment recently announced the Small Business Assistance Scheme for Covid (SBASC) as a further horizontal support across all sectors of the economy. SMEs and Businesses in the non-funded live events sector are eligible to apply under this scheme.
I was pleased to recently announce a new €50 million suite of additional measures to further support those in the Live Entertainment Sector. As part of this suite, an allocation of €25 million is being made available under the Live Performance Support Scheme 2021. This scheme builds on the successful outcomes of the pilot Live Performance Support Scheme (LPSS) in 2020, which provided thousands of days of employment to hundreds of musicians, actors, crew and technicians in tandem with a pipeline of high quality on-line much needed entertainment for Irish audiences.
The 2021 scheme is aimed at supporting employment and wellbeing opportunities across all genres and the continued production of high quality artistic output for the public.
As a further support measure for those in the live entertainment industry, an allocation of €14m will be made available for a new scheme to make a contribution to the overheads of businesses, specifically musicians and related crew, that have been significantly negatively affected by COVID-19 and that do not qualify for other business supports. The main features of this new Music Entertainment Business Assistance Scheme (MEBAS) will see support to assist with business overheads offered by way of two levels of flat payments:
- €2,500 for businesses with a VAT-exclusive turnover of €20,000 - €100,000;
- €5,000 for businesses with a VAT-exclusive turnover in excess of €100,000.
Under the scheme, musicians, singers, lighting and sound crew and audio equipment suppliers - whether sole traders, partnerships or incorporated entities - operating exclusively within the commercial live entertainment sector will be eligible to apply. This scheme has been developed following wide consultation with the sector and will be managed directly by my Department. The eligibility threshold of €20,000 aims to strike an appropriate balance having regard to other available supports and the need to reach as many professional musicians and crew as possible. The scheme will open when the necessary administrative and IT systems are in place.
An allocation of up to €5 million will also be made available to local authorities for live performances in summer 2021 to animate town centres and other locations, should public health considerations permit. This will allow for the procurement by local authorities of performances by local performers. Performances can be recorded or streamed if health restrictions prevent live events. Local authorities will be encouraged to engage events companies to develop and deliver a programme of performances.
Further information on the business and financial supports my colleague the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment has in place to help businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis can be viewed at the following link .