Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

08.00 30 Jun 2020


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There's a warning that there is no sign of the arts sector operating at 'anywhere near normal' levels for the foreseeable future.

Angela Dorgan, Chair of the National Campaign For the Arts, told Newstalk Breakfast that the sector continues to be badly hit by the coronavirus restrictions.

She will be appearing before the Special Dáil Committee on COVID-19 Response later, as the sector continues to seek more supports.

Ahead of that appearance, Ms Dorgan said things may not be back to normal before the end of the year.

No sign of arts sector 'opening to anywhere near normal' for foreseeable future, group warns

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She explained: "When we start to open up, it will be between 15 and 30% capacity, so putting on shows and gigs is going to be artistically really challenging, but also in terms of putting on a show and all the people you need to pay... and all the break-even for that is going to be undoable."

She pointed to an estimate suggesting €2.7 million per month is being lost to the sector - with the National Campaign for the Arts putting forward a 13-point plan last month to sustain artists and arts workers during and after the crisis.

Ms Dorgan said: "Thankfully, the first and most urgent of the goals - to sustain the sector until the end of the year... that came through with a €20 million investment to the Arts Council, which will make its way to artists, arts workers and organisations.

"Other goals we have are very common with other sectors - [such as] the extension of the pandemic unemployment payment.

"Around the country, [we want to] protect the arts budgets on county-by-county basis in local councils, and not have them pulled into the other budgets. In the last recession, arts was seen as an add-on and their budgets seemed to be up for grabs.

"For the entire entertainment sector and tourism sector as well, look at VAT reduction... look at tax systems that might make our sector more attractive for investors, the same way the film sector is."

She also said the Government should look at the prospect of a universal basic income, as most artists were already earning below the national minimum wage before the pandemic.

This weekend saw the appointment of a new Arts Minister - with Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin heading the newly-expanded Department of Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht.

Reacting to the appointment, Ms Dorgan said: "The brief is interesting one - it's a bit of a packed brief.

"There are lots of common aspects between tourism, the arts and media in the current climate... so I could see opportunities where elements and organisations within the brief can complement each other for future plans."

Main image: Picture by Niek Verlaan from Pixabay

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