Irish orchestras, the live music industry, school music departments and colleges will receive a significant boost from a 63% increase in arts funding from the Irish government in the 2021 budget.
The £116 million Arts Council fund is £5 million below what had been asked by the National Campaign for the Arts (NCFA), which represents 55,000 artists, art workers and arts organisations in Ireland, but the Campaign is clearly relieved after last year’s disappointingly small increase.
In a statement, the NCFA said, ‘The €130 million investment in the Arts Council for 2021, as well as the €50 million investment in the live events and entertainment sector, demonstrates a clear commitment from government to ensuring that both funded and commercial arts can survive, recover and thrive in 2021.’ The NCFA expressed serious concern, though, for the many freelancers who will not benefit from the government’s offer.
In 2016 arts funding in the republic fell to a mere £50.6 million in the wake of the global recession. The government had promised to more than double that by last year but held back for fear of the damage caused by Brexit. So, this new budget announcement has come as a welcome surprise.
The live music support package is specifically aimed at helping the industry through the Covid crisis. 35,000 people work in the industry in Ireland and Irish live music has huge global influence.
Catherine Martin, the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media said, ‘The package is designed to help performers keep performing and to ‘de-risk’ the cost of running events such as concerts and live shows amid the stop-and-start nature of the pandemic.’
The minister announced that there will also be seat compensation funds for schools and colleges, theatre, musical and dance organisations.