One-in-four arts jobs could be permanently lost due to Covid impact, new research finds

One-in-four arts jobs could be permanently lost due to Covid impact, new research finds

Cork City Ballet production of Swan Lake in the Cork Opera House. The Irish Examiner previously revealed that grants of up to €10,000 for music and theatre venues will be included in the upcoming budget. Picture: Miki Barlok

A quarter of all jobs in the arts sector could be lost by the end of next year with the Covid-19 pandemic hitting it more economically than any other industry, according the Arts Council.

Research from consultants Ernst and Young (EY), commissioned by the Arts Council, found that the arts was one of the first to be hit and is likely to be one of the last to recover from the pandemic’s clutches.

The core arts sector will lose 16% of its jobs this year, compared to 10% in the economy as a whole, the report found.

It warned that if the scale of the recession in the arts pushes organisations into bankruptcy, they will not be there to lead a recovery.

Cuts could be irreversible

Some of the economics setbacks and cuts could be irreversible, EY’s Employment and Economic Impact Assessment, which was updated for October, also found.

The research found that Government plans will drastically reduce the activity of the arts sector until the end of 2021, and the negative impact of restrictions will be amplified by the seasonality of some cultural sub-sectors, such as festivals.

Spending that did not occur will not be compensated for later in the year, and as the sector is mostly of SMEs, the arts is particularly subject to cash flow issues.

Some 58% of total arts sector employees were in receipt of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme or the Pandemic Unemployment Payment at the end of August.

Irish ExaminerThe previously revealed that grants of up to €10,000 for music and theatre venues will be included in the upcoming budget in a programme described as a “lifeline for the industry”.

The scheme is similar to what was included in the July stimulus, which saw €5m for venues and performers to plan for gigs and concerts, as well as to cover their costs if the event was cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The scheme was oversubscribed by around €10m, seeing three times as many applicants than available funding.

Arts Council director Maureen Kennelly, Arts Minister Catherine Martin and Arts Council chair, Prof Kevin Rafter. Picture: MAXWELLS
Arts Council director Maureen Kennelly, Arts Minister Catherine Martin and Arts Council chair, Prof Kevin Rafter. Picture: MAXWELLS

Arts Council chair, Prof Kevin Rafter, said that the EY report was indicative of the scale of the challenge ahead.

“The Arts Council received significant additional funding from the Government in 2020 to help alleviate the impact of the crisis on artists and arts organisations, and we are putting all of those extra resources to good use. In our pre-Budget submission we have requested €135m for 2021, and this report demonstrates just how urgently this support is required,” he said.

Arts Council Director Maureen Kennelly said the agency was focused on achieving the best outcomes for the arts in 2021 and beyond.

“The arts sector is facing extraordinary challenges with remarkable strength, solidarity and resilience. We will continue to work with the Department of Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht, and on Minister Catherine Martin’s Cultural Recovery Task Force, to make sure that the arts play a full part in our national recovery.”

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