From the plough to the stars – Government must show commitment to the Arts and arts workers as we come out of pandemic

10 October 2021
  • Labour Alternative Budget would commence a pilot basic income scheme
  • Arts Council funding to be expanded to €150m
  • Devote €1.3 million to extend opening hours of cultural institutions
  • Funding to help Local Authorities buy and refurbish vacant properties for arts and culture space

In advance of Budget day, Labour spokesperson on the arts Marie Sherlock said Government must demonstrate that they are serious about reviving the arts and culture sector and supporting arts workers across the country. 

Senator Sherlock said:

“This budget will be a test for all the honeyed words of support to a sector. Many have been badly let down over recent months with a lack of clarity and an inability to plan re-opening or re-commencement of full scale live perfomances. As we all know, the pandemic has had a crippling impact on so many who have devoted their working lives to the creation, promotion and showcasing of art and culture here. Furthermore, the large increase in funding to the Arts Council in the past year must be the foundation for increases in 2022 and we need to see Government stem the steady haemorrage of arts and culture space in Dublin and across the country to commercial soul-less interests.

“In Labour’s alternative budget, we called for Arts Council funding to increase to €150m, for Create Ireland funding to be expanded and importantly for Government to make good on their promises of the basic income scheme for artists and arts workers- this is a vital income support safety net which recognises the uncertainty and precarity of arts work.

“Under Labour’s proposals, 1,000 participants would be eligible for a pilot basic income scheme, as recommended by artists and the sector in the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce’s Life Worth Living report. Long called for by the National Campaign for the Arts, this would represent a step change in our approach to the many artists and art workers who work hard to enrich all of Ireland and benefit society. Time is of the essence and I hope that clear timelines will be set out in Budget 2022 for our many artists, authors, actors, live event workers and other professionals within the sector. 

“As people return to the plethora of fantastic cultural institutions in Ireland, Labour proposes an additional €1.3 million funding to extend opening hours for National Cultural Institutions. Extending the opening times of these places of wonder and inspiration would represent one step in widening the access to arts and culture in the community. 

“Finally, we see that the Cobblestone pub in Dublin 7 is the latest prospective victim of developer greed. The potential loss of the one of the most important traditonal music institutions in the city is yet another example of how Dublin and other cities and towns are being hollowed out of its cultural space in the name of commercial interest. We need to stem that tide of where commerce trumps culture and we need to assist cultural institutions, commercial or otherwise, to purchase their own space. As a start, we are proposing that that a €5million pot of funding for Local Authorities, be put in place, to buy and refurbish vacant properties for cultural purposes.

“It is vital that we recognise the unique type of livelihood in the sector and that we support it accordingly. Budget 2022 is an opportunity for government to show the true value and appreciation of the contribution of the arts sector to Irish life. James Connolly once said, “The Irish people will only be free, when they own everything from the plough to the stars.” The arts sector is home to both the worker and the star, and we must show them that we fundamentally value them and ensure that the sector that provides so much joy and entertainment to our society reap the benefits of the profits that sector makes.”

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