Thursday, 8 July 2021
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
187. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she will bring forward a restart grant scheme to facilitate working musicians and entertainers to get back to work, recognising the fact that they are small businesses that have been closed down and have not been offered any restart assistance (details supplied); and the way in which she plans to facilitate this section of the entertainment sector. [36901/21]
COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease, which spreads when individuals and groups come into close contact with one another, enabling the virus to move from one person to another. In certain settings, such as live performances, higher noise levels due to music, can force people into close proximity or require them to raise their voices or shout to communicate thus increasing the risk of spreading virus to others. Such activities present a higher risk of transmission of COVID-19. Accordingly live music is not currently permitted. As the Deputy is aware however, Government will be reviewing COVID restrictions before the 19th of July and I secured the agreement of Government last month to review the restrictions on performances at licensed venues, such as restaurants, pubs and hotels.
In addition to reviewing the position pilot events are taking place across June and July, depending on the epidemiological situation at the time and subject to the roll out of the vaccination programme. These events will assist in safely charting a path back to greater levels of activity in line with developments in public health guidance over the coming weeks and months. Pilot events are necessary as a proof of concept for the safe management of events whilst COVID-19 is still circulating in our communities and in order to evaluate and build confidence in the COVID-19 guidance and event management protocols developed by the culture and sports sectors.
I remain firmly committed to the full return of all live entertainment at the earliest possible date, having regard to public health developments, and the pilot performances, together with a wide range of horizontal and direct supports for the sector, are all part of a suite of measures designed to sustain and support the sector in its recovery.
My Department operates a range of sector specific supports in addition to a broad range of horizontal supports. These include the €25 million Live Performance Support Scheme 2021 (LPSS 2021). The allocations for this scheme have been recently announced and I was delighted to be in a position to fund 237 successful applications, the details of which are available on my Department’s website.
I have also made an allocation of €14m available for the Music and Entertainment Business Assistance Scheme (MEBAS) to make a contribution to the overheads of businesses that have been significantly negatively affected by COVID-19 and that do not qualify for other business supports. Under the scheme, self employed businesses including musicians, singers, lighting and sound crew and audio equipment suppliers operating exclusively within the commercial live entertainment sector are eligible to apply. Applications may be made via the MEBAS application portal on my Department’s website. The closing date for this scheme as been extended to 21 July.
I have also made an allocation of €5 million available to local authorities for live performances in summer 2021 to animate town centres, should public health considerations permit. This will allow for the procurement by local authorities of performances by local performers. This funding will be allocated shortly.
€5 million will also be made available for a scheme of capital supports for the commercial live entertainment sector. The details of this scheme are currently being considered and will be announced in due course.
In addition, I have announced an additional €11.5m for a new Events Sector Covid Support Scheme which I hope to launch soon. This scheme will target SMEs in the events sector which aren’t eligible for the CRSS and for whom MEBAS and the Small Business Assistance Scheme for COVID-19 will not make a significant contribution to fixed costs relative to the level of support that that would be available under CRSS, had such SMEs been eligible for that support.