Some 5% of Arts Council funding should go into a new hardship fund to help people working in the live entertainment industry.
That's one of many proposals included in a new pre-Budget submission to Government made by the Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland (MEAI) today.
The livelihoods of people working in the arts and entertainment industry have been heavily impacted by Covid-19 restrictions on concerts and live music events.
Now, MEAI is calling for the reinstatement of the full Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) as well as reduced VAT and guarantees on payment breaks for artists and entertainers with mortgages and bank loans.
The group represents nearly 5,000 people working in live entertainment, including musicians, sound engineers, booking agents, DJs, and others.
They say that many of those they represent are now in arrears due to their loss of income during the pandemic, while many more have had to sell their professional equipment to meet household bills.
In a statement, MEAI said: “Since the 12th March 2020, the Music & Entertainment sector has been in lockdown.
"Our members are not unemployed but forced not to be employed as a result of Covid-19 guidelines — the Music & Entertainment sector by its very nature relies on audiences and social crowds and settings.
- Almost 70% of members depend on the music and entertainment sector for their income;
- 11.5% cent have utility bills in arrears;
- One-in-10 members are now having to sell essential equipment to cover household expenses;
- 17.4% are dealing with mental health worries as a result of financial stress.
The group is urging the Government to reinstate the €350 per week PUP payment at a single tier.
They also want the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) set at €410 per week until the arts and entertainment industry is in a position to reopen without the need for social distancing.
They are also seeking the creation of a Survival Package and Scaffolding support structure for self-employed individuals and businesses.
Additionally, MEAI wishes to see a broadening of the current criteria to ensure the commercial live music sector can properly avail of Arts Council funding.
The group says an extension of the current taskforce, created by Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport, and the Gaeltacht, Catherine Martin,
would go a long way towards the development of an inclusive strategy for the funded and commercial arts sectors.