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 Header Item Heritage Promotion (Continued)
 Header Item Artists' Remuneration

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 988 No. 7

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Martin Heydon: Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon] Is there a possibility for them to be directly employed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service or for the latter to give that work directly to Bord na Móna? I presume there is a tendering process for that. If the Minister could provide any information on that, it would be helpful.

The Minister spoke about biodiversity measures. I wish to raise the issue of invasive species. Are steps being taken to address very serious issues such as those relating to Japanese knotweed? What progress has been made on the built heritage investment scheme and the historic structures fund? I presume there will be a new round of funding this year as a result of the budget allocation for the Department.

Deputy Josepha Madigan: Information on Josepha Madigan Zoom on Josepha Madigan I thank the Deputy. Regarding bog rehabilitation and restoration, I will be working closely with Deputy Bruton on the issue of the Bord na Móna workers. Some 100 jobs will be created. This issue has prompted the biggest increase in funding that the heritage side of my Department has had for many years, an increase of 15.5%. Some €5 million of that will come from the carbon fund and will specifically tackle peatlands and bogs in the midlands. That will be significant.

We are putting significant funding towards the issue of invasive species, on which Deputy Burton has also tabled a question. Invasive species that originate in other countries are a scourge from both a national and an international perspective. We are doing our best to tackle each and every one of these species, some with management plans and some in other ways. I can discus that later when I reply to Deputy Burton's question. I will talk about the built heritage investment scheme in my next reply.

Deputy Martin Heydon: Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon I thank the Minister. The built heritage investment scheme and the historic structures fund have been of great benefit to organisations in Kildare, and it would be great to see that again. The Minister knows the importance of heritage, both the need to protect and maintain it for future generations and its huge tourism potential. We have received very positive news from the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Deputy Ring, of an allocation of more than €5 million, with €67,941 allocated to the Barrow blueway project. In that context, I thank the Minister, Deputy Madigan, for the work she and the officials in Waterways Ireland have done. She very kindly gave up her time last August to come to a very well-attended public meeting of over 200 people in Monasterevin. Officials like Mr. John Boyle at Waterways Ireland deserve special mention for the huge amount of work they put into a really good application. The full amount that was applied for by Waterways Ireland and Kildare County Council has been allocated, through the rural regeneration and development fund and Project Ireland 2040, to make the 46 km dream that we in south Kildare have had a reality. The blueway will include Athy, Monasterevin, Rathangan, Roberstown and a significant part of Laois. I thank the Minister and her officials for the part they played in that regard. This is how the funding of heritage and other projects in rural Ireland through rural regeneration funding should work. It will support those communities' futures from economic and heritage perspectives.

Deputy Josepha Madigan: Information on Josepha Madigan Zoom on Josepha Madigan I am delighted to hear about the blueway. It is really important to the constituency Deputy Heydon represents. Jobs will be created in the detailed design and construction stages. As the Deputy says, increased tourism will bring economic benefits to the area through direct and indirect visitor spending. That is the bottom line. Apart from the monetary benefits, there will also be benefits for new businesses and the vacant and disused properties along the waterways.

The Deputy also mentioned the built heritage investment scheme and the historic structures fund. I note that in Kildare the Sean Chill and the Grattan Vault in Celbridge, the Mill Cottage in Sallins, the graveyard and church in Johnstown and the Church of the Holy Saviour in Narraghmore all received funding this year, along with Ard na Gréine in Sallins, St. Michael's Church in Athy and Pebble Hill House in Maynooth. The Newbridge clock tower received €25,000 under the historic structures investment fund.

Artists' Remuneration

 27. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Josepha Madigan Zoom on Josepha Madigan the measures she is planning to take to combat employment and income insecurity across the arts sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45502/19]

 29. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Josepha Madigan Zoom on Josepha Madigan if her attention has been drawn to research by an organisation (details supplied) into pay and conditions for performing artists that showed that a third earn less than the minimum wage and that working in the performing arts is characterised by poor conditions and precarious employment; her plans to address same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45457/19]

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Earlier this year, the Theatre Forum outlined the widespread poverty and lack of income and employment security among artists and people working in the arts. Prior to the budget, the National Campaign for the Arts pleaded with the Minister to honour the Taoiseach's commitment to double arts spending, which has merely crept upwards. The most recent budget saw a very marginal increase in arts funding which will do nothing to address the widespread poverty and income and employment insecurity facing artists and people working in the arts. I have repeatedly pointed out to the Minister that film crew in this country enjoy absolutely no income or employment security. Why was the budget so poor in this regard and what is the Minister going to do to address this issue?

Deputy Josepha Madigan: Information on Josepha Madigan Zoom on Josepha Madigan I thank the Deputy. One of these questions was tabled by Deputy Penrose, who is not here. His question is linked to that of Deputy Boyd Barrett.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Are two questions being taken?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Deputy Burton will have an opportunity to ask a supplementary question. Only one Deputy can pose the introductory question.

Deputy Josepha Madigan: Information on Josepha Madigan Zoom on Josepha Madigan I propose to take Questions Nos. 27 and 29 together.

 I am aware of the research Deputy Boyd Barrett has raised. Since becoming Minister, I have put in place a number of initiatives and additional supports for the arts that will make a significant difference over time to the income of people working in the performing arts.

Total funding for the arts and culture sector in 2020 will increase by more than 2%, from €189 million to almost €193 million, an increase of €4 million.  This funding will comprise €153 million in current expenditure and €39.7 million in capital investment.

The Deputy mentioned the Arts Council of Ireland, through which primary support for the arts is delivered. Its funding has increased in recent years and will reach €80 million in 2020.  This is an increase of €5 million, or 6.7%, on the figure for 2019.  The Arts Council of Ireland, which is independent in its funding decisions under the Arts Act 2003, operates within a published ten-year strategic framework entitled Making Great Art Work. This strategy prioritises support for artists throughout their careers by the involvement of many agencies in cultural provision, the impact of the arts on the creative economy and the depth and breadth of people's engagement with the arts.

The cumulative impact of these funding increases is further testament to the commitment to double Government spending in the arts, culture and heritage sector by 2025, which the Deputy mentioned.  In this context I am already delivering additional supports to the arts and culture sector, building on the €1.2 billion earmarked for my sector under Project Ireland 2040 and thus leading to increased activity and employment across all sectors under the remit of my Department.  

In July of this year I announced the completion of a review of the per cent for art scheme.  The outcome of this review led to changes to the scheme’s bands and limits which will make significantly increased funding available to the creative community.  Many artists have already received high-profile commissions for public art works as a result of this scheme and these increases will ensure many more will also benefit. The new limits and bands will apply from 1 January 2020. Details can be found on my Department's website.

I am re-establishing an interagency group to improve information-gathering and the collation and sharing of best practice within the per cent for art schemes.  This group will also be linked to the Arts Council of Ireland and will seek to enhance the council's existing advisory role in the scheme.

Artists deserve our full support and have my full support, particularly given the significant income challenges they face. With regards to artists' pay and conditions I would like to draw the attention of the House to the recent announcement by the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Deputy Regina Doherty, and myself of the extension of the social welfare scheme for self-employed artists on jobseeker's allowance on a permanent basis to other self-employed professional artists such as those working in theatre and music. This scheme recognises the unique creative circumstances of professional artists in receipt of jobseeker's allowance and gives them special assistance in their first year out of work, allowing them to focus on their creative output.

In addition, my Department has also worked to address conditions and employment rights in the performing arts and screen industry in conjunction with the relevant agencies under its remit. Central to this are the Arts Council of Ireland's policies on the remuneration of artists, which strive to ensure that organisations in receipt of council funding offer fair and equitable remuneration to artists.

In tandem with securing additional funding, my Department has also worked to address conditions and employment rights in the performing arts and screen industry in conjunction with the relevant agencies under its remit.


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