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Arts Council welcomes report from Covid-19 Expert Advisory Group

Press Release 19th June 2020

The Arts Council has endorsed a new report from a special Advisory Group established to identify ways for the arts sector to deal with the Covid-19 crisis. 

Arts Council Chair, Prof. Kevin Rafter said: “With the government’s decision this week to increase the Arts Council’s budget to €100m the first objective of the Advisory Group has been achieved.  This additional funding will help the Arts Council protect jobs and livelihoods for individual artists and also assist key art organisations facing financial difficulty. We would like to thank the members of the group for their important work.’

The report – which is being published today and has been submitted to the Minister – makes a number of key recommendations to support the arts through the Covid-19 crisis. 

In reviewing the report’s recommendations, the Arts Council has committed to:

  • giving priority in additional funding to enhanced commissioning schemes and increased bursary and professional development schemes;
  • working with the arts sector to address challenges of digital dissemination and adapting existing physical spaces and exploring new spaces
  • working to restore public confidence in attending live events.

The Advisory Group report also recommends that the new government:

  • maintains current wage supports (PUP and TWSS) for artists, arts workers and organisations until they can return to full capacity;
  • ensures fair remuneration for artists is reflected in all public policies; and support the rights of artists in discussions of Article 13 of EU Copyright Directive 
  • reviews taxation practice as it relates to the arts including an examination of VAT, gifting and artists’ incomes
  • provides capital funding scheme for arts buildings to adapt to social distancing requirements.  

New EY research commissioned by the Advisory Group shows that the negative and long-lasting effect of the Covid-19 crisis on the arts – specifically that:

  • without additional financial support the arts sector could contract by up to 42% in 2020 compared to a 11% decline for the wider economy, and that the arts sector could take until 2025 to recover from the current crisis.

Arts Council Director, Maureen Kennelly said:  ‘This week’s announcement of additional funding for 2020 has given crucial reassurance to this vibrant sector. With a stimulus package and a strategic approach, we believe the arts can not only survive but thrive, helping to lead the country in the recovery, and to restore our society’s morale and confidence’.  

The members of the Expert Advisory Group were: Lenny Abrahamson, filmmaker; Anne Clarke, theatre and opera producer (Landmark Productions); Angela Dorgan, Chair of the National Campaign for the Arts; Prof. Sarah Glennie, Director, National College of Art and Design; Martin Hayes, musician; Maureen Kennelly, Director of The Arts Council / An Chomhairle EalaÍon; Fintan O’Toole, journalist and commentator; and Dr. Gabriel Scally, Visiting Professor in Public Health, University of Bristol. The group was chaired by Prof. Kevin Rafter, Chair of the Arts Council.

The Advisory Group report includes appendices on the Arts and Health by Dr Gabriel Scally, and statements from artists and arts workers from every county in the State explaining the impact of the Covid-19 crisis including:

DraÍocht was born out of demand by its local community, supported by a pro- active County Council.  The mixed economy model that we depended on is in tatters.  2020 will see us carry a large deficit, 10 staff are on the COVID payment, 13 part time staff are on temporary layoff. We are not just an arts centre, we are part of a community – Emer McGowan, DraÍocht Arts Centre, Blanchardstown, Dublin.

When the lockdown happened I lost access to my art studio and all my art materials. I had just spent a year making a large body of work for two solo exhibitions in Dublin and Clare which were both postponed indefinitely, resulting in a significant loss of revenue from projected art sales. – Cecilia Danell, Artist (Next Generation Artist), Galway

The Advisory Group report – and supporting documentation – is available here – http://www.artscouncil.ie/uploadedFiles/Survive%20Adapt%20Renew_A%20response%20to%20the%20Covid-19%20crisis%20for%20the%20Arts%20in%20Ireland.pdf