I am fully aware of the severe difficulties being faced by live performers and all artists as a result of the pandemic and my Department and I have engaged extensively with stakeholders to understand these challenges and put in place supports for the sector. As the Deputy is aware, new necessary measures to protect public health were introduced from 7 December. This included certain restrictions on capacities for live indoor performance. These restrictions impact on the viability of live performances and in this context, Government recently extended supports under the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) and the Employee Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) to protect employment in impacted sectors. The Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) has also been reopened for a limited time to support people who lose their employment as a result of the new COVID-19 public health restrictions from Tuesday 7 December 2021.
I have also introduced €50m in sector specific supports, including a support for events that were due to take place in December and January to minimise cancellations and to provide support where these are unavoidable. The supports announced for the sector include:
- €5m for the seasonal musical theatre and pantomime scheme (LPSS 2), funding will increase from €2m to €5m and the turnover requirement is being reduced to €100,000 from €300,000 with applications being accepted until the end of January 2022. This scheme is now open for applications
- €20m for another strand of the Live Performance Support Scheme (LPSS 3), specifically to support performances in December and January which may need to be cancelled, curtailed or rescheduled. This scheme will open for applications on Friday 17 December. Venues, including nightclubs that stage live performances, producers and promoters can apply for up to 50% of their eligible costs
- A minimum of €14m for another strand of the Live Performance Support Scheme (LPSS 4), to support performances being staged from February 2022 to June 2022. This scheme will open in January 2022. If further funds are required the Minister will seek additional funding from the Covid Contingency Fund
- €5m for Local Authorities to support local artists and performances through the LLPSS (Local Live Performance Support Scheme). This will include funding for community and local pantomimes
- €5m to continue the capital supports scheme (CECGS) to venues, including for ventilation upgrades and other COVID adaptations
- €1m for the Saint Patrick's Festival 2022
A further extension of the Music and Entertainment Business Assistance Scheme (MEBAS) which supports businesses in the music sector will be announced in January.
The rationale behind these schemes is to provide employment opportunities for artists, musicians and crew. Thousands of days of employment were generated by the LLPSS and the LPSS over the summer and autumn when other activity was restricted due to public health measures. I am confident that the new strands of the schemes will give much needed employment to musicians, artists and arts workers again, including in the nightclub sector.
I am committed to supporting the live performance and nightclub sector as they journey through this difficult phase and these schemes aim to be as flexible, responsive and timely as possible in that regard.