Leo Varadkar says artists have "found it difficult to access" supports up until now
Professional artists will have easier access social welfare supports under a new scheme announced today.
The initiative - which is being introduced on a pilot basis for 12 months - applies to visual artists and writers.
Under the scheme, the Department of Social Protection will provide for the classification of self-employed professional artists, and assist those who apply for jobseeker's allowance.
Arts Minister Heather Humphreys says the initiative will be reviewed to see if it can be extended to artists in other disciplines.
She said: "The issue of income for artists is something that has been raised with me on a regular basis, so I hope this pilot initiative can be seen as a very positive step for the arts community.
"This pilot scheme is not a panacea, but it is a clear sign that the Government recognises the vital role that artists play in Irish society and that we respect and value their contribution."
Announcing the scheme this morning, Fine Gael leader and Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar said that the initiative will "make it much easier for professional artists to access social welfare supports when they need them".
He added: "Up to now, artists have found it difficult to access social welfare and of course many artists take on extra jobs to support their livelihoods."
Writer and poet Kerrie O'Brien is one of the artists welcoming the new scheme.
She explained: "On a personal level, I've been on social welfare the past six months while trying to be a full-time writer, and write my next novel, my next collection.
"It's really difficult, because you're constantly applying for work and trying to prove you're not just writing."
She added: "Even with people who get huge advances... people will be quite shocked at how little [writers] earn."