I can assure the Deputy that I am acutely aware of the long standing difficulties faced by artists and I have put in place a number of initiatives and additional supports to the arts that I believe will, over time, make a significant difference to the income of people working in the arts.
Primary support for the Arts is delivered through the Arts Council. Funding for the Arts Council has increased in recent years and now stands at €80 million in 2020, and increase of some €5m or 6.3% over 2019. The Arts Council, which is independent in its funding decisions under the Arts Act 2003, operates within a published 10 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, by the impact of the arts on the creative economy, and by the depth and breadth of people's engagement with the arts.
Total funding for the arts and culture sector in 2020 will increase by over 2% from €189m to almost €193m. 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 on a trajectory that will see funding doubled by 2025. 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.
Last summer Minister Regina O'Doherty and I announced 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.
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.
In addition, on 10 July last, I announced new, significant measures aimed at increasing funding for public art and artists. Following completion by my Department of a review of the Percent for Art scheme, which allocates up to one percent of public capital projects to the commissioning of new works of art, changes are being introduced from 1 January next to the scheme’s bands and limits. This will result in increased funding being made available to the creative community and will ensure that the investment in public art projects will be closer to one percent.