The arts sector is calling for a comprehensive industry-wide recovery plan to be addressed within the government's budget for 2021.
According to the National Campaign for the Arts, the livelihoods of 55,000 citizens have been lost since March 2020, when live gigs, exhibitions, performances, festivals and cultural events first ceased in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Since the initial shutdown of the industry, a targeted recovery plan has yet to be implemented by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.
In a Dáil sitting on October 6th, Sinn Féin TD for Dublin Mid-West, Eoin Ó Broin said: "the biggest problem when I’m talking to people in the industry is the lack of a road map.
"Everybody knows that they can't go back to work now, but this is an industry which in the main operates twelve months ahead of the rest of us, whether they’re planning festivals, exhibitions, concerts, tours etc."
The arts, culture & entertainments industry needs certainty. The need a road map for reopening over the next 12 months with clear rules, targets & decision making.— Eoin Ó Broin (@EOBroin) October 6, 2020
Meanwhile the tens of thousands of workers in this sector need proper income & business supports. pic.twitter.com/AtIOUuT90z
Deputy Ó Broin urged Minister Catherine Martin and her department to provide the arts sector with roadmaps and targets that offer those whose livelihoods depend on the industry with some clarity over the coming months.
Regarding the upcoming budget, Deputy Ó Broin noted the scarcity of resources available but said that "given the scale of this industry, its importance not just to the economic life of the state, but to the cultural and emotional wellbeing of people, I’m urging you to do everything you can to ensure this industry and its workers get every possible support into the future."
The losses accumulated by the arts sector since March this year are projected to have cost between €250m and €300m to Irish GDP, highlighting how important a recovery plan for the industry is to the Irish economy.
The NCFA has outlined nine key issues that they wish to be addressed within Budget 2021 in order to get the arts sector back on its feet, including: ensuring that those within the sector are supported financially through the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme, increasing funding to the Arts Council to €135 million in 2021 with a view to at least doubling investment in the Arts Council by 2025, and increasing funding to Culture Ireland to €10 million.
According to NCFA, Budget 2021 "provides Government with the opportunity to build on that recognition of the value of the arts, by creating a road map for current and future investment in arts and culture for the benefit of all society,"
Similarly, Words Ireland, a collective of seven Irish literature organisations, have said that Budget 2021 offers the government the opportunity to help the literature sector that has also been badly hit by the pandemic.
The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media have noted that with the upcoming Budget and the development of the National Economic Plan, the Government will review and refine existing supports, and consider any further necessary measures required as a consequence of COVID-19.