I propose to take Questions Nos. 420, 422, 423, 424 and 426 together.
I was particularly pleased to announce €25m for the pilot Basic Income Guarantee Scheme for artists as part of Budget 2022. This scheme will bring new life and support to the arts and culture sector, and I hope it will provide an important legacy for our artists, after the very difficult circumstances they have endured over the last year and a half.
This is a major policy intervention and is grounded in on-going dialogue with the sector. The upcoming stakeholder forum is a continuation of the engagement myself and my officials have had with the sector on this matter.
The facilitation of 'World Café Method' style events is normally carried out by experienced professional communications experts and facilitators, familiar with the methodology, to ensure that the outputs of the forum, which will be large in scale, are effective and contribute to the ongoing development of this policy.
I can assure the Deputy that economic and evaluation skills are central to the manner in which policy is developed in my Department. The team lead on the pilot scheme is an economist and member of IGEES (Irish Government Economic Evaluation Service) and my Department's Strategic Policy Unit, which is staffed with six members of IGEES, are also assisting with the policy development for the pilot scheme. My officials have been engaged in extensive policy development to bring this policy intervention to fruition in conjunction with colleagues on the Oversight Group which includes the Departments of Finance, Social Protection, Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Public Expenditure and Reform, as well as Enterprise, Trade and Employment. The Directors of the Arts Council and Screen Ireland are also members alongside a representative of the County and City Managers Association.
As the Deputy will be aware, the pilot basic income guarantee scheme was a key recommendation from the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce. I established an Oversight Group, which includes the Arts Council and Screen Ireland, to appraise the recommendations in the Life Worth Living report.
I asked the Group to prioritise the basic income guarantee pilot and the Oversight Group has met 8 times. To assist in these discussions, the Oversight Group established a subcommittee to focus solely on the progression of the recommendation for the basic income pilot scheme. This sub-committee met 9 times over the summer months to develop a number of options that could fulfil the requirements as set out in the Life Worth Living report.
A number of organisations have given presentations to the Oversight Committee in order to inform their considerations these include:
- the NCFA (the National Campaign for the Arts)
- Social Justice Ireland
- Praxis – the Artists Union
- Dr Stephen Kinsella – Economist in University Limerick and Niamh NicGhabhann & Annmarie Ryan who had done research in the area of artist basic income
- In addition, Equity the actors union are due to present to the group this week.
The Request for Tender (RFT) clearly sets out that the facilitation relates to the basic income guarantee pilot for artists. The RFT was published on my Department's website, shared via social media as well as being sent to a number of companies that specialise in this type of facilitation.
I am satisfied that a professional facilitator will add value to the stakeholder forum and ensure that the voices of artists, arts sector representative bodies and resource organisations will be heard on this important matter.