I am aware of the challenges posed by the availability of insurance products for certain arts and culture organisations. The issue of insurance is, in the first instance, is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Finance. In 2016, the Government established a Cost of Insurance Working Group, which is chaired by Michael D’Arcy, T.D. Minister of State at the Department of Finance with special responsibility for insurance issues.
I am informed that due to recent changes in cover provided by insurance companies, many service providers across the State, including those in the tourism, leisure, children’s play facilities and arts organisations are experiencing significant difficulties in securing insurance. In addition, to difficulties in procuring insurance, there is a further issue where service providers are facing dramatically increasing insurance costs. This is also evident in the performing arts sector.
There is a particular impact on arts organisations involved in performance activities that take place in excess of 1.5 metres above the ground which include some arts organisations that engage in aerial and street performance. There are a small number of such companies spread across the State.
The Government is aware of the issues facing cultural festivals and venues and is particularly concerned about the affordability and availability of insurance. The pricing of insurance products is however, a commercial imperative for insurance companies. The reality is that neither the Department nor its agencies, has any control over the costs of insurance products. This position is reinforced by the EU framework for insurance. Government cannot therefore direct insurance companies to cover certain types of risk, such as those in the cultural sector.
I am advised by the Department of Finance, that the Working Group is focusing on implementing the recommendations of two reports that it prepared and published. These reports examined the factors contributing to the increasing cost of insurance in order to identify what short, medium and long term measures could be introduced to help reduce the cost of insurance for consumers and businesses.
The Working Group, as part of its remit, is also examining the issues encountered by the arts performance organisations. Officials from my Department have attended a meeting between Minister Darcy's Office and representative organisations for arts grouping affected by rising insurance costs. My Department will continue to co-operate with the Department of Finance with any actions which will assist in the implementation of recommendations to mitigate the insurance issues.