I propose to take Questions Nos. 27 and 29 together.
I am aware of the research Deputy Boyd Barrett has raised. Since becoming Minister, I have put in place a number of initiatives and additional supports for the arts that will make a significant difference over time to the income of people working in the performing arts.
Total funding for the arts and culture sector in 2020 will increase by more than 2%, from €189 million to almost €193 million, an increase of €4 million. This funding will comprise €153 million in current expenditure and €39.7 million in capital investment.
The Deputy mentioned the Arts Council of Ireland, through which primary support for the arts is delivered. Its funding has increased in recent years and will reach €80 million in 2020. This is an increase of €5 million, or 6.7%, on the figure for 2019. The Arts Council of Ireland, which is independent in its funding decisions under the Arts Act 2003, operates within a published ten-year strategic framework entitled Making Great Art Work. This strategy prioritises support for artists throughout their careers by the involvement of many agencies in cultural provision, the impact of the arts on the creative economy and the depth and breadth of people's engagement with the arts.
The cumulative impact of these funding increases is further testament to the commitment to double Government spending in the arts, culture and heritage sector by 2025, which the Deputy mentioned. In this context I am already delivering additional supports to the arts and culture sector, building on the €1.2 billion earmarked for my sector under Project Ireland 2040 and thus leading to increased activity and employment across all sectors under the remit of my Department.
In July of this year I announced the completion of a review of the Per Cent for Art scheme. The outcome of this review led to changes to the scheme’s bands and limits which will make significantly increased funding available to the creative community. Many artists have already received high-profile commissions for public art works as a result of this scheme and these increases will ensure many more will also benefit. The new limits and bands will apply from 1 January 2020. Details can be found on my Department's website.
I am re-establishing an interagency group to improve information-gathering and the collation and sharing of best practice within Per Cent for Art schemes. This group will also be linked to the Arts Council of Ireland and will seek to enhance the council's existing advisory role in the scheme.
Artists deserve our full support and have my full support, particularly given the significant income challenges they face. With regards to artists' pay and conditions I would like to draw the attention of the House to the recent announcement by the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Deputy Regina Doherty, and myself of the extension of 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, 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 are the Arts Council of Ireland's policies on the remuneration of artists, which strive to ensure that organisations in receipt of council funding offer fair and equitable remuneration to artists.
In tandem with securing additional funding, 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.
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.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
It is important to note that employees in every industry, including those working in the arts and film sectors, are entitled to all existing legal protections, which includes new legislation under the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 to improve the security and predictability of working hours for employees on insecure contracts and those working variable hours.
The House may also be aware that the Workplace Relations Commission is undertaking an audit of the independent film and television drama production sector with a view to examining industrial relations generally.
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.