The Arts and Culture and Recovery Task Force, established in early September this year in response to the effects of the Covid pandemic, has now published its first report detailing its recommended measures to support the sector towards a sustainable recovery.
Titled Life Worth Living, the report’s recommendations include implmenting:
- income, taxation and financial provision measures;
- education and training supports;
- technology supports;
- mental health supports;
- social protection measures;
- copyright measures.
A statement released by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media said it has been widely acknowledged that the impact of COVID-19 on the Arts/Culture sector has been more detrimental, and will last longer, than in nearly any other sector. Almost all activity has stopped and it is likely that for many parts of the sector it will be among the last to restart.
Taskforce Chair Ms. Clare Duignan, submitted the report to the department’s Minister Catherine Martin, which was noted by Government yesterday. The report in full can be accessed from the department’s website here.
The Taskforce makes a number of recommendations, for the sector’s survival until it fully opens up again. This includes how it can retain the artists and the wider creative, technical, production and support workforce, with their skills and talent, so that there are still arts, culture and entertainment events for Irish audiences and foreign visitors to enjoy in better times. These recommendations build on the considerable supports provided to the impacted sectors in Budget 2021 and in the July Stimulus.
The report includes recommendations on policy and planning, income, taxation and financial provision, education and training, technology supports; mental health, social protection, community development, social inclusion as well as around copyright.
The report, in identifying the value of the arts and culture sector in society, offers ways to ensure those very performers and creators are indeed recognised and supported through new measures.
Within this, the report identifies a number of issues and solutions under the themes of:
- Ensuring Recovery;
- Building Resilience; &
- Facing Forward.
Commenting on the report, the Minister Martin said she very much welcomeed the report and thanked every member of the Taskforce for their time, expertise and commitment in what she said was this hugely difficult time.
“I met with the Taskforce at the start of its work and was struck both by the members’ dedication and also the seriousness of the situation facing the Arts and Culture sector.
“The Taskforce has produced a set of recommendations on how best the arts and culture sector can adapt and recover from the unprecedented damage arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. The sector includes the arts, culture, the audio visual industry, live entertainment and the events industry.
“As I have stressed on numerous occasions, the Arts and Culture sector was the first to shut and will in many cases be the last to re-open. This report will be hugely beneficial to me and to my colleagues in Government as we examine ways to help the Arts and Culture sector emerge from the very difficult position in which it finds itself. I note in particular the Taskforce’s assessment of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on both existing livelihoods within the sector but also people’s future prospects, not just financially but in areas such as wellbeing and maintaining existing skill sets. I am under no illusions about the scale of the challenge and the many competing priorities facing Government. Nonetheless, I am delighted that as a Government we have been able so far to respond to date on many of the issues highlighted within this report. We can always strive to do better and that is what I aim to do.”
Also thanking those on the taskforce, Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce Chair Clare Duignan said she also thanked all those who made submissions during the consultation stage ensuring that the report was a fact driven, balanced document:
“As I say in the report; almost all activity has stopped in the Arts and Culture sector. The survival, recovery and sustainability of this sector is dependent on economic policy and decision-making in the short and long-term. I strongly believe that this report gives the Government the information required to help the sector by ensuring its recovery, building on its resilience and strengthening it for the future,” said Ms Duignan.
The Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce was appointed in September to prepare a report for the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media including a set of recommendations on how best the arts and culture sector can adapt and recover from the unprecedented damage arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was tasked with:
- adopting a solution-focused approach;
- seeking sector-specific expert input and consult with stakeholders;
- inviting additional individuals or expertise to attend meetings on an ad hoc basis, as it deems necessary;
- focusing on providing intelligence and recommendations for an expected on-going and varying impact of COVID-19 restrictions;
- identifying immediate and medium term goals for recovery and sustainability in the sector;
- identifying possible policy initiatives or impediments to a robust sustainable recovery in the sector;
- recommending whole of Government policy initiatives and actions to support the sector;
- reporting to the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media by the 31st October 2020 in order to provide the Government with an action-plan for the sector.
The Taskforce comprised an independent chairperson and 18 other members from a broad spectrum of backgrounds including from the arts, representative bodies and also across Government departments and state bodies, including the Minister’s Department, the Department of Health and Department of Social Protection. Departmental representation was supplemented by the Arts Council and representatives of culture and the arts, including theatre and live music as well as the commercial sector.
The Taskforce has met seven times in total up to the end of October, however all members also participated in working groups under the Taskforce. It considered nearly 40 submissions and representations received from practitioners across all of the Arts/Culture, Audio-Visual, Entertainment and Live Events sector and sought advice from a number of independent sources.
The report makes a number of recommendations to help the Arts/Culture sector and sets out measures to support the sector towards a sustainable recovery.
Summary of Recommendations
In broad terms, the recommendations are divided under three themes of ensuring recovery, building resilience and facing forward.
A summary of each recommendation is below:
- Protecting Livelihoods and Careers:
Pilot a Universal Basic Income Scheme for a three-year period in the Arts, Culture, Audio Visual and Live Performance and Events Sector.
The Taskforce also recommends an extension of the Professional Artists on Jobseekers Allowance Scheme to other art forms as recommended in the 2019 review.
- Mitigating Income Loss
Establish a new VAT compensation scheme for Artists and for freelance Arts, live Entertainment and Events Workers and Companies.
- Ensuring Fair Pay for the Makers of Creative Content
Transpose the EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market into Irish Law without adjustment or dilution of the directive as it relates to rights holders.
The Taskforce submits strongly that the Audio Visual Media Service Directive (AVMSD) should be transposed into Irish Law immediately, because of its importance to the Audio-Visual and Creative Screen Sectors.
- Securing the Viability of the Live Events Industry
Introduce a business supports grant scheme for SME’s in the Events Industry that are excluded from the COVID-19 restrictions support scheme (CRSS)
- Sustaining Local Authority Capacity to Support Arts, Culture, Live Entertainment and Events
Government should commit to continue its provision of financial support to Local Authorities to offset any loss of income they experience in 2021 so as to enable them to maintain their investment in Arts, Culture and Events at 2020 levels.
- Ensuring the Wellbeing of Ireland’s Creative and Cultural Community
Establish a programme that provides wellbeing supports to the creative sector.
- Building Sectoral Capacity through Upskilling and Professional Development
Establish a capacity building and up-skilling scheme for Artists and Creative Workers aimed at recovery and renewal through Professional Development
- Making Space for Arts & Live Entertainment to Contribute to National Recovery
The Treatment of Cultural Activities and Venues under the various levels of the resilience and recovery 2020-2021 plan for living with COVID-19 requires urgent review to better reflect actual circumstances and the particular behaviours of Artists, Audiences and Venue staffs in this area of Irish Life.
A representative stakeholders group should be established so that cultural providers can engage with public health experts and other stakeholders to design guidance and support mechanisms, for the re-introduction of safe public engagement in Cultural Activity.
- Providing more Outdoor Public Spaces for Cultural Events
Establish ’Re-imaging our public spaces’: A capital improvement programme, including targeted resources for local authorities to adapt, equip or improve public spaces for cultural and events activities as well as an activation fund for the private sector to utilise their space
- Addressing the Environmental Impact of Arts, Cultural and Event Activities
Establish and fund a Creative Green Programme. This could promote sustainable practices in the sectors, informed by research and actions already undertaken nationally and internationally.
Membership of the taskforce is:
Clare Duignan. Chair
Colette Byrne, County and City Management Association
Denise Chaila, Artist
Jane Daly, Co-Director, Irish Theatre Institute
Pearse Doherty, Event Industry Alliance
Angela Dorgan, Chair, National Campaign for the Arts
Conor Falvey, Dept of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports & Media
Désirée Finnegan, CEO, Screen Ireland
Elaine Geraghty, CEO, Screen Producers Ireland
Martin Hayes, Musician
Andrew Hetherington, CEO, Business to Arts
Rónán Hession, Department of Social Protection
Maureen Kennelly, Director, The Arts Council
Mary McCarthy, Council of National Cultural Institutions
Eleanor McEvoy, Irish Music Rights Organisation
Aoife McWeeney, Department of Health
Elaine O’Connor, Event Industry Alliance
Karan O’Loughlin, Irish Congress of Trade Unions & Irish Equity
Micheál Ó Fearraigh, Ealaín na Gaeltachta