I propose to take Questions Nos. 159 to 161, inclusive, together.
I recognise that the business events industry comprises numerous and diverse industry sectors such as conference organisers, music events and hospitality, exhibitions and trade shows, theatre and arts, as well as ancillary services such as travel and tours. There can be no doubt about the difficulties these sectors have faced in recent months due to the impact of social distancing requirements and large gatherings.
My Department has had recent engagement with those representing the events sector. Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation Mr. Robert Troy TD, is also in ongoing contact with sector representatives. The Minister of State for Employment Affairs and Retail Businesses, Mr. Damien English TD, recently met with representatives of the newly formed Events Industry Ireland (EII), which represents event professionals and business owners from the Irish events industry. Discussions were held concerning the adverse effects of COVID- 19 on the events sector in general, the Government supports available to sectors and to certain suggestions which the EII had put forward to assist their sector to recover. Some of these suggestions included potential for funding for business transformation both digital and environmental, a tax incentivisation scheme and further assistance with finance / loan forbearance and on insurance issues.
The €7.4 billion July Jobs Stimulus Plan itself provides scope for some businesses within the events sector to avail of the continuation of measures such as the income support package consisting of the PUP extension and the employment wage support scheme and additional liquidity, enterprise investment and taxation measures.
The Government's COVID-19 'Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19' specifically deals with organised events and we will continue to work with the industry to progress the development of agreed protocols and innovative ways to enable the hosting of such organised events into the future. Government will also continue to work with the sector to explore what supports are available through Enterprise Ireland to assist events businesses transform and change their business models by availing of innovation and technology over the longer term.
In addition to the wider range of supports now available, there may be scope for some businesses within the events sector to avail of the new measures introduced by the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht, Ms. Catherine Martin TD, under the July stimulus package. For example, Minister Martin announced on 9th September last an allocation of €5 million under the “Live Performance Support Scheme” which aims to assist commercial venues, producers and promoters of live performances and provide employment to workers in the creative industries. The scheme will help to de-risk the costs of preparing for new productions which may subsequently have to be postponed, cancelled or curtailed due to restrictions to safeguard public health. The main objective of the scheme is to provide employment opportunities in the ticketed performance sector and allow commercial organisers of live performances to commence preparations immediately and productions to go ahead in the near future while also complying with public health protection measures. This scheme has been developed following consultation with the sector and will be managed directly by the Department of Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht.
A further support package, the Music Stimulus Package, involves three funding schemes designed to help sustain the popular and commercial music sector across all music genres. Under this package, a fund of €1,000,000 is being put in place to stimulate areas of work which artists would usually fund with income from own sources including live event fees. The aim is to ensure that Irish musicians, engineers, PR, media, agents, labels and publishers can continue to develop and share their work in the context of COVID restrictions.
In the wider context of the Government’s Resilience and Recovery Plan, the operation and reopening of sectors will be guided by the need to manage risk and repairing the damage that COVID-19 has inflicted on society and business. At the same time, all decisions taken by Government on the timing of any lifting of restrictions will continue to be informed by the public health advice in terms of whether to increase or remove the limits on mass indoor gatherings having regard to the public health advice.