I am acutely aware of the difficulties the events sector has faced in recent months due to the impact of social distancing requirements. The events industry is comprised of a number of diverse industry sectors comprising a mixture of large and small firms. Many event industry firms do currently use large online platforms to generate income, increase online visibility and to reach new international markets. These online platforms are key enablers of entrepreneurship, digital trade and innovation. Ireland has a strong base of firms in the audio visual and digital technologies that can partner with those in the events industry on new modes of developing and distributing content.
The digital economy permeates all aspects of society, influencing the way people interact and bringing about broad societal changes. The current COVID-19 crisis has brought this into even sharper relief by highlighting the dependence for both individuals and businesses, particularly SMEs, now have on the digital economy and, in particular, online digital platforms through their disruptive digital technologies and the services they provide.
On 9 September last my colleague the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht, Catherine Martin, T.D, announced a new pilot “Live Performance Support Scheme” to assist commercial promoters and producers to employ artists, musicians, performers, technicians and other support staff in live performances, which may subsequently have to be curtailed, cancelled or postponed due to Covid-19. The key aim of “Live performance Support Scheme” is to assist commercial venues, producers and promoters of live performances to provide employment to workers in the creative industries while also producing high quality live performances for the public.
It is proving particularly challenging for project promoters currently to implement social distancing while also being commercially viable for live performances to take place. The sector is proactively working to implement measures to enable their industry to reopen as soon as it is safe, practicable and viable to do so; and this scheme aims to support the live performance sector in achieving this. Applicants can apply for a grant from €10,000 to a maximum of €800,000 on a matched funding basis which can be used to fund a percentage of eligible costs.
For micro- business in the events sector, the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) in each county provide access to training, mentoring and funding assistance for those considering their digital transformation strategies. As part of the Government's July Stimulus Package, we have expanded the LEO's Trading Online Voucher Scheme to assist small businesses with up to 10 employees to trade more online, boost sales and reach new markets. It offers financial assistance of up to €2,500, covering up to 90 of the costs for businesses to develop their online presence.