Arts welfare scheme must be available to all artists – Tóibín
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Arts, Peadar Tóibín TD, has welcomed the pilot scheme introduced by Minister Humphreys and Minister Varadkar to allow artists easier access to social welfare supports.
The Department of Social Protection will now allow for a separate classification of professional artists who are self-employed, so that these artists will be not subject to the usual year-long employment activation process.
Deputy Tóibín said:
“This is welcome news for artists who need extra assistance. The difficulty of artists accessing support has long been noted and this is a small measure to ensure that they do not have to repeatedly encounter the same difficulties in accessing support. This is a very precarious sector with a very low median wage.
“If we are to actually nurture our creative talent we have to give our artists recognition.
“They should not have to jump through hoops and be forced apply for irrelevant activation programmes. This professional recognition allows artists greater scope to focus on their art.
However I am concerned that the criteria of ‘artist’ is very narrow – it seems to be confined to writer or visual artist only.
“What about those who are involved in the performing arts – dancers, actors, directors? Why are they not included in this scheme?
“While this is a positive measure, let’s not forget how Fine Gael have slashed the arts budget enormously since they took office and that arts spending in Ireland is the lowest in the EU – at 0.1% of GDP compared to the average of 0.6% - which has consequences for the viability of Irish artists far greater than ease of access to social welfare supports.”