Basic Income Pilot is welcome, but more could have been done in Budget 2022 to promote arts, culture and the Irish language

14 October 2021
  • Basic Income pilot is welcome, but the momentum behind increasing arts & culture funding has undoubtedly slowed
  • More must be done to protect and preserve unique cultural and artistic spaces
  • Extra investment in the Irish language again falls short

Labour Party spokesperson on Arts, Culture, Media and the Gaeltacht Senator Marie Sherlock has commented in response to Minister Catherine Martin’s announcement concerning funding for the Arts, Culture and Irish Language in Budget 2022:

“The Government has told us that Budget 2022 represents ‘a powerful programme of supports for the Arts’, but digging beyond the slogan it’s clear that more could have been done for these sectors which have suffered more than any other under Covid restrictions.

“I do want to welcome the pilot Basic Income Guarantee scheme for Artists; this has been a key demand of the National Campaign for the Arts and was front and centre in the Labour Party’s pre-budget submission. This is something that artists and arts workers have been calling out for, and it is now crucial that the pilot commences within the early-2022 timeframe set out in Minister Martin’s briefing today.

“While this specific measure is welcome, I am disappointed that the Government has chosen not to invest more in the arts as a whole. Last year saw a welcome boost to the Arts Council funding, which the Labour Party proposed to build on with €20 million additional investment. However, it appears that Arts Council funding will now remain at 2021 levels.

“Indeed, when we step back and really interrogate the figures, it seems that, with the exception of the Basic Income pilot, Budget 2022 represents only a modest increase in public investment. The increase for the artistic and cultural sectors was just 2% in 2022. While this might have been welcome in ordinary times, they will come as a disappointment to a sector which has suffered enormously over the last two years.

“One area in which more could certainly have been done is around supporting and preserving our artistic and cultural spaces. This month we have seen the threatening of yet another iconic cultural landmark in the proposed development of a hotel over Dublin’s Cobblestone pub. Recent years have seen similar devouring of cultural spaces in every town and city in Ireland.

“The Government could have used Budget 2022 to stem the tide of commerce trumping culture. There is a glaring need now to support local arts groups directly, and to fund local authorities to purchase cultural venues like the Cobblestone which are in danger of being lost forever. Labour’s alternative Budget 2022 proposed dedicated funding for the purchase and refurbishment of properties for cultural purposes.

“Now is undoubtedly the time for a bold, dramatic investment in our artistic, cultural and live events sectors. While elements of these plans are welcome, the Government’s plan for these sectors fall short of the honeyed words we have heard about the importance of arts and events to our national cultural life.

“Is brónach an scéal, i mBuiséad 2022, nach bhfuil sa tacaíocht airgeadais don Ghaeilge ach méid ana bheag den airgead a infheistítear sna hEalaíona agus sa Chultúr ina iomláine.”

“Níl ach € 1.5m de mhaoiniú breise geallta ag an Rialtas d’Údáras i nGaeltachta – suim atá ibhfad faoi bhun an togra €8 milliún a tháinigón eagraíocht féin a thabharfadh 1,637 post nua le tacú leis an nGaeilge agus í a chur chun cinn. Agus cé gur mhéadaigh Buiséad 2022 an maoiniú do chláir Ghaeilge, fós theip ar an Rialtas arís an bhearna idir TG4 agus leibhéal an mhaoinithe atá ar fáil do theilifís na Breataine Bige sa RA a dhúnadh. “

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