Thursday, 19 September 2019

Questions (23)

Joan Burton


23. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans to ensure a fair and equitable working wage for persons working in the arts, culture and heritage sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37911/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

My Department supports a broad range of programmes and initiatives across its remit to preserve, protect, promote and develop Ireland's rich cultural, language and heritage resources. In 2019, funding of €339 million was allocated for developing culture, heritage and the Irish language.  This is an increase of €36 million, or 12%, on the previous year.  This compares with a 5% increase in overall voted public expenditure in 2019.

The Government's priorities in relation to arts expenditure are evident with the following initiatives:

- The Taoiseach's commitment to double funding over a ten year period;

- The 13% increase in funding for my Department in this year's Estimates;

- The €6.8 million 10% increase in funding for the Arts Council;

- An increase of €1.15m for Creative Ireland;

- Funding of €4.6m for Culture Ireland;

- The €1.2bn in capital funding for culture, heritage and the Gaeltacht over the ten years 2028 announced as part of the National Development Plan; including:

- The €460m investment programme in our National Cultural Institutions; and

- A €200m Audio-visual Action plan by me launched last summer.

In addition to these funding increases, I recently announced an increase in the Percent for Arts Scheme in which many artists have received high profile commissions for public art works.

My Department and I will continue to work rigorously with all of my Government colleagues towards delivering on the commitment to increase Government spending in the arts and culture sector.  In this context, I am already delivering additional supports to the arts and culture sector, building on the €1.2 billion earmarked for culture, heritage and the Irish language under Project Ireland 2040, thus leading to increased activity and employment across all sectors under the remit of my Department.

Artists deserve our full support particularly given the significant income challenges they can face. With regards to artists' pay and conditions, I would like to draw the Deputy's attention to the recent announcement by Minister O' Doherty and myself to extend the Social Welfare Scheme for Self-Employed Artists on Jobseeker’s Allowance on a permanent basis to other self-employed professional artists such as those working in theatre and music. This scheme recognises the unique creative circumstances of professional artists in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance and gives them special assistance in their first year out of work, allowing them to focus on their creative output.

In addition to this, my Department has also worked to address conditions and employment rights in the performing arts and screen industry in conjunction with the relevant agencies under its remit. Central to this is the Arts Council policies on the remuneration of artists which strives to ensure that organisations in receipt of Arts Council funding offer fair and equitable remuneration to artists.

The Government will continue to give consideration to measures to further deliver on its commitments but will balance supports to ensure that they are felt across the sector.