I propose to take Questions Nos. 230, 235 and 237 to 242, inclusive, together.
I announced the
pilot Outdoor Public Space Scheme 2021 last week. The genesis of the scheme is Recommendation No 9 of Life Worth Living - the Report of the Arts and Culture Recovery Task Force.
The Scheme as advertised provides that a local authority can apply for a capital grant of up to €250,000 for a single project at a funding rate of up to 90%.
The pilot scheme was developed in consultation with the local authority County and City Managers Association, as the Local Authorities are best placed to understand the individual needs of the communities they serve.
The scheme is intended to fund local authorities to adapt, equip or otherwise improve public spaces for cultural and events activities, taking account of public health guidelines and of the needs of the local arts community. Outdoor public spaces that can provide year-round use can improve wellbeing and contribute positively to the public realm. The support will allow each local authority to adapt, equip or otherwise improve public spaces for cultural and events activities. The new scheme will take account of public health guidelines and of the needs of local arts and entertainment communities. Ideally projects will respond to the challenges associated with COVID-19 and support the recovery of the creative, cultural, entertainment and events sector as well as being future-proofed from a health and safety perspective.
The Public Spending Code requires cost benefits analyses to be completed for projects over €20m and as this scheme will not reach that threshold, such an analyses was not therefore required. The scheme is designed to deliver speedy results in order to support live performances as soon as it is safe to do so, and within any potential future restrictions on outdoor events.
Funding for the scheme will be delivered from within existing resources of the Department. It will not come from the allocation of €50 million made in Budget 2021 for the live performance sector. It is however part of a comprehensive suite of measures to support the cultural sector in response to the impacts of COVID-19 on the sector. It is also designed to align with similar schemes being developed by Fáilte Ireland to address infrastructure for outdoor dining. These initiatives have significant potential to enhance the public realm in local authority areas. They link to the wider work of the Night Time Economy Taskforce and will potentially contribute to the longer term regeneration of cities and towns across the country.