Tuesday, 22 June 2021
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
269. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which she expects to be in a position to assist in the promotion of the arts post-Covid-19 given the challenges arising; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33488/21]
271. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which, notwithstanding the lockdown, she is in a position to encourage, promote and invest in the arts in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33490/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 269 and 271 together.
Decisions on COVID-19 public health measures are the responsibility of Government and are made by Cabinet, on foot of advice from NPHET and the Minister for Health. In line with the plan set out in The Path Ahead the Government has been implementing a phased easing of restrictions for the month of June. The Government will shortly make further decisions which should allow for the continued phased reopening of the music and entertainment sectors for the critical summer season, as the public health situation permits
The Government has responded to the challenges facing the arts, and culture sector through a range of measures. Significant additional funding was announced in Budget 2021, with €130 million allocated to the Arts Council for 2021 and €50 million for supports for life performance. The supports in 2020 and again in 2021 included provision for extensive online content to be generated. Supports have also been provided to those impacted in the arts, culture, performance and events sector through the pandemic unemployment scheme and various wage subsidy schemes. My Department also continues to expand the delivery of the Creative Ireland programme.
In 2021, I allocated €50 million for a suite of measures to assist the live performance sector aimed at supporting employment and well-being opportunities across all genres and the continued production of high quality artistic output for the public. Included in this package are the following measures:
- I recently announced 237 grant allocations under the 2021 Live Performance Support Scheme amounting to €25m.
- An allocation of €14m has been made available for the Music and Entertainment Business Assistance Scheme (MEBAS) to make a contribution to the overheads of businesses, specifically musicians and related crew, that have been negatively affected by COVID-19 and that do not qualify for other business supports. This Scheme is a demand led scheme and is accepting applications at present.
- An allocation of €5 million has been made available to local authorities for live performances in summer 2021 to animate town centres, should public health considerations permit.
- Up to €1 million was allocated to the St Patrick's Festival 2021 for programming and it supported over 3,500 days of employment for performers, producers, artists, technicians, creatives and support staff.
A new €11.5m new fund for the entertainment industry, including festivals, conferencing and large events has been agreed between myself and the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar. This Events Sector Covid Support Scheme (ESCSS) will support SMEs that are not eligible for the CRSS.
I am providing funding to local authorities in support of local creative and cultural activity under the Creative Communities Strand of the Creative Ireland Programme. The Creative Ireland Programme is a culture-based programme to promote individual, community and national well-being. Its core proposition is that participation in arts, cultural and heritage-based activities drives personal and collective creativity, with significant implications for individual and societal wellbeing and achievement. Under the Creative Communities initiative in the Creative Ireland Programme, my Department and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage provide funding to Kildare and to the other 30 local authorities to implement their individual Culture and Creativity Strategies 2018-2022.
In County Kildare, the Culture and Creativity Team is made up of local authority-defined positions including the Librarian, Arts Officer, Heritage Officer, Irish Language Officer and Climate Action Officer along with economic development staff. To support the implementation of their Culture and Creativity Strategy, Kildare County Council has been allocated funding on an annual to implement their Strategy. This includes access to targeted funding streams to facilitate engagement in creative ways to address societal issues such as those related to climate action, positive ageing and health and well-being. For example in 2021, Kildare County Council successfully applied for additional funding of €26,810 under the Creativity in Older Age scheme for an initiative that supports positive ageing groups in communities in Kildare to explore, discuss and question artworks from the Kildare County Council Municipal Art Collection.
Funding for local authorities for commemorative events under the Decade of Centenaries can be applied to appropriate cultural events under the creative imagination strand.
270. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which she continues to have dialogue with stakeholders in the entertainment sector with a view to alleviating insofar as is possible the hardship brought about as a result of Covid-19 and the utilisation of online performances in the short-term to keep the industry alive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33489/21]
I have been very cognisant of the fact that the arts and culture sectors have been amongst the hardest hit by the necessary restrictions required to deal with COVID-19. I and my officials have been in regular and ongoing communication with stakeholders over the past 15 months to fully understand the challenges posed by COVID-19. I established a number of taskforces and consultative stakeholder fora to ensure that the most up to date information is available to me about the difficulties facing the sector. This includes:
- The Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce;
- The Night-time Economy Recovery taskforce;
- The Return to Live Entertainment Working Group, and;
- The Life Worth Living Oversight Group.
In addition, my Department has engaged with a wide range of stakeholders including the Arts Council and other bodies under its aegis, advocacy groups such as the National Campaign for the Arts, resource organisations, individual artists and art practices, as well as representative groups, businesses and individuals in the entertainment and events sectors. This engagement with stakeholders was essential to the record allocation I secured for the arts and culture sector as part of Budget 2021 including €50m in supports for live entertainment and €130m in funding for the Arts Council.
The Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce report Life Worth Living, was published in November 2020 and made ten recommendations to support the recovery and resilience of the sector. My Department has been working with stakeholders to implement those recommendations and the Oversight Group I recently established will examine how the outstanding recommendations can be resolved.
I intend to continue this stakeholder engagement as we progress towards the reopening and recovery of the arts, culture and live entertainment sectors.
In additon, I allocated €50m for the live entertainment sector in 2021. As part of this I awarded €25m last week under the Live Performance Support Scheme and this will include supporting live-streaming of performances.