How the 2021 budget will affect the Arts community

Leona Kenny

A live entertainment support package and an increase in funding to the Arts Council were among the measures announced for the arts and entertainment sector during Budget 2021, It is a sector that has been among the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A package of 50 million in support for live entertainment was announced by Minister for Public Expenditure, Michael McGrath.

The arts and music industry are not traditionally considered as an important aspect in the budget, but with COVID-19 disallowing all festivals, live concerts, club nights and theatres, it is one of the most damaged industries over the last few months.

Minister Catherine Martin said this package is designed to help performers keep performing and to “de-risk” the cost of running events such as concerts and live shows. There will also be compensation funds for schools and colleges, musical, theatre and dance societies, while the Music Stimulus Fund for song-writing and recording will continue into next year. This will benefit sound engineers, producers and studios.

The Arts Council of Ireland said this money will “support artists and art organisations” throughout the pandemic and ensure people can continue to engage with the arts next year.

However, the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP)  has not been reinstated to €350. This will continue until April 2021, with the highest rate of €300 per week. This may come as bad news to those self-employed and who had relied on the ecosystem of live music and performances.

An extra fifty million has been allocated to support the live commercial entertainment sector under the banner ‘’ Live Performance Support Scheme’’. The Music Stimulus package, which opened with €1 million in funds for professional musicians and their teams to help fund songwriting camps, recording and album releases is expanded. This will benefit producers, studios and sound engineers.

Freelancers and self-employed people find themselves standing on shaky grounds. They will be able to claim €300 a week and earn up to €480 a month on top of that. However, that only adds up to €1,680, which is far below what people are making pre-pandemic. Sole- traders also find themselves in a difficult place between claiming the payment and applying for grants.

The National Campaign for the Arts (NCFA) welcomed these packages but did criticize the government for not fully including all members of the industry.

“While NCFA welcome the PUP income disregard which will allow artists and arts workers to 120 per week without losing the payment, we are disappointed to see that the reduced tiered payment is still in place. We are hugely concerned about what will happen in April 2021 when the PUP is phased out”, said the NCFA.

Leona Kenny

Image Credit: Paschal Donohue Facebook