It goes without saying that this Corona Virus has hit us all with a total shock and many of the ISACS members are now in a serious crisis due to the immediate loss of earnings for the foreseeable future.
First: Please see the Department of Health guidelines here for advice on how to manage and control the spread of this virus.
Second: ISACS does not have any solutions, but we can offer you some practical advice which may help get you through the next few weeks.
Artists Jobseekers Allowance
The Artists Jobseekers Allowance is available to anyone who works as a professional artist. Full official information is available on the Dept of Social Welfare. In order to qualify for this allowance you must present a Certificate which is available to ISACS members identifying that you are a professional artist. You can log in to the ISACS website now with your Member password and submit the application for same in advance of applying via your local Social Welfare office and send them this certificate with you for your application.
This scheme lasts for one year and allows you to continue to work as an artist without being ‘activated’ (showing letters that demonstrate that you are looking for work, or attending training in various programmes).
COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Benefit
If you are self-employed you can apply for the Pandemic Unemployment Benefit. This was increased from €203 to €350 per week on the 24th March 2020. If you have already applied for this, you do not need to do anything, it will automatically update. This includes students and part time/casual workers. Please keep in mind that Revenue has indicated that it will treat the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment as taxable income. Depending on your overall income during a year, the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment may affect your overall tax liability for the year.
If you have one adult and one or more dependent children you should claim a Jobseeker’s Payment instead of the COVID-19 Pandemic Payment. This is because you can claim an additional allowance for dependents, bringing your payment over the €350 per week.
If you have been forced to self-isolate due to #COVID19 you are entitled to illness benefit. Full details on the Dept of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. Benefit will rise from €203 to €350. No minimum PRSI contributions are required; so this applies to freelance, sole traders etc. Medical certification is required to say that it is Covid related.
The COVID-19 Wage Subsidy is a scheme which allows employers to pay their employees during the current pandemic. Employers will be refunded up to 85% of an employee’s wages. Up until the 4th of May, the subsidy scheme refunded employers up to €410 per week for each qualifying employee. However, after the 4th of May, payment moved to a system based on the previous net weekly wage for each employee. Employees previously earning up to €586 net per week and employees previously earning in excess of €586 net per week. Detailed info can be found here. An employer must demonstrate that they have lost up to 25% of their trade. Employers are being encouraged to top up this scheme. More info here.
- Applications for the Refund scheme for the Wage Subsidy with Revenue are available here.
- It may still become necessary for some Employers to offer Short term Layoffs. This only applies for temporary situations and the employer must inform the employee in advance – more information.
- Organisations that need to reduce hours or days worked can avail of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Short Term Work Support – more information.
- The form required for short term Layoffs is called an RP9.
- For those of you who are planning out your return to work, The Irish Times have compiled a handy Q&A.
Funding and Support
- At the start of the crisis, Culture Ireland developed a new fund together with the Dept of Culture and Facebook Ireland for delivering online content. A Special consideration was given to those who were planning on presenting work internationally in 2020. Max award €1000. We know some of you were successful in getting this fund – full details of scheme.
- The Arts Council of Ireland also announced a new funding stream which closed in April – COVID19 Crisis Response Award. Max award €3000.
- The Department of Rural and Community Development have launched a €35million Covid-19 Stability Fund for Community and Voluntary, Charity and Social Enterprises who have seen their and/or fundraising significantly drop. They have also launched A €5 million government commitment to a The Philanthropy ‘Innovate Together’ Fund which will focus on supporting responses to the COVID-19 crisis that require innovative and adaptive solutions to existing and emerging challenges.
- Given the ongoing circumstances the Arts Council have extended the deadline for the Next Generation Artists Award, which is now the 21st of May 2020. Winning recipients will receive €20,000 and a week-long residential programme in early 2021 – more information.
- We would advise that you keep an eye on our website as we are continuously updating it with the latest opportunities, funding schemes, residencies, training and more.
- The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has an up to date webpage dedicated to providing guidance for the arts sector during this time. It also includes a statement advising that they will be honouring funding commitments for 2020.
- The Wheel has published a very comprehensive support page.
- Touring Production companies may have already planned national and international tours. As the international situation is evolving so quickly, it’s advisable to follow the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade – Travel Advice. If you have to cancel international travel read advice from the European Consumer Centre. Many airlines are removing flight change fees, if you change your flight before March 31st. Several airlines are grounded since the 24th March, for all flights except repatriation/rescue services.
- If you are traveling to the European Union, make sure you have a valid European Health Insurance Card.
Anyone who is returning to Ireland from abroad, including those coming from Britain, are being asked to go into self-isolation for 14 days. On the other hand, those traveling to the UK from Ireland are exempt from the isolation requirement in place there.
- A quick guide to the travel restrictions in place and your consumer rights is available from The Irish Times.
- Read the Government’s National Action Plan for Covid19.
- The Department of the Taoiseach and Department of Health have published a roadmap for reopening society and business. It’s set into 5 stages beginning from May 18th with all reopening requiring social distancing remain in place. Read the full roadmap.
- The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation have announced details of a package of supports that they will put in place for businesses impacted by COVID19.
- Enterprise Ireland are offering the following supports.
- Back in March, Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe outlined measures to support individuals and businesses here. Since then they have launched a Stability Programme which gives an update of the economic and fiscal outlook for the rest of the year.
- The Minister for Finance outlines measures to support individuals and businesses.
- The SBCI, in partnership with the Dept of Business, Enterprise and Innovation have a loan scheme available for Novel Business industries who normally do not have enough resources to qualify for a loan. Loans available of €10,000 to €1million.
- Three Pillar banks – AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank have offered assurances to the Government that they will continue to support their business customers. Talk to your bank about your financing needs. Government discussions with the banks outlined here.
- The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht released an updated statement on the 14th of May. Find it here.
- The Garda Síochána have announced that they are putting in place a COVID-19 National Co-Ordination Unit in the interest of public safety.
- If you are working from home, you can claim tax relief on your household expenses. Please review Revenue’s guidelines.
- If you need help with Rent or Housing payments, you may qualify for the Rent supplement or the Housing Assistance Payment.
- If you need to take a Mortgage Break due to Covid 19, please consult with your bank directly. Many of them are implementing a three month break.
- As of 27 March, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government introduced into law, new emergency measures to protect tenants during the Covid-19 period. More information on the new amendments.
- If you pay Commercial rates, you may qualify for a three month rates relief, if you have had to close or curtail activities. Please consult your local authority. More details here and here.
The European Union sets out their response to counter the economic impact of COVID19. Some key points:
- The Commission considers that the COVID-19 pandemic qualifies as an “unusual events outside the control of government”. This allows accommodating exceptional spending to contain the COVID-19 outbreak such as health care expenditure and targeted relief measures for firms and workers.
- In the coming weeks EUR1 billion will be redirected from the EU budget as a guarantee to the European Investment Fund to incentivise banks to provide liquidity to SMEs and midcaps. This will help at least 100,000 European SMEs and small mid-caps with about EUR 8 billion of financing. We will also provide credit holidays to the existing debtors that are negatively affected.
- The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund could also be mobilised to support dismissed workers and those self-employed under the conditions of the current and future Regulation. Up to EUR 179 million is available in 2020.
On 13th of May, President von der Leven of the Euorpean Commission announced a 3-pillar recovery plan for Europe:
- The first pillar will focus on supporting Member States to recover, repair and come out stronger from the crisis.
The second pillar is about kick-starting the economy and helping private investment to get moving again.
The Third pillar is about learning the most immediate lessons of the crisis.
- Creative Europe has launched the Creatives Unite platform which offers a common space for those in the creative and cultural sectors. It provides up to date information and initiatives responding to the crisis. You can find Creatives Unite here.
- For a full listing of supports being put in place across Europe in the cultural sector, please review the On the Move/Circostrada response page here.
Public Policies for COVID19
- Many centres of creation and training are now closed to the public and have big restrictions on access, also for staff. Please continue to support these centres.
- At some point we will be able to open again, in this case we will need policies in place in the interests of public health. Galway Community Circus and Dublin Circus Project have published their COVID19 policies which you can view here:
- You can also download the public health poster for use in your space here.
- Download the full public communications pack for use with your community and in your space here and the government reopening roadmap here.
- As regards Data Protection during COVID-19, please take note of this useful page created by our colleagues at The Wheel.
- ISACS partner insurance broker IOMST have advised that they will offer up to a maximum of a three month extension on a policy if you have been forced to close due to Corona Virus. Please call Greg Quinn in IOMST and discuss your position as soon as possible, and in advance of your renewal date. This three month extension, may be added either to your current policy or held for your new policy as long as it is renewed before year end 2020. Full details here from IOMST
- We advise you to read this succinct Q&A here for advice on what your policy might cover and then GO & READ your policy,. If you have ‘Business Interruption’ or ‘Infectious Diseases’ please let us know directly. We want to fight this corner.
Arts Council Funding and Support:
- If you are an organisation that is receiving Arts Council funding, they have assured us that they will honour all their funding commitments for 2020, even if a project can now not taken place due to #COVID19. They specifically encourage all of these core funded organisations to prioritise paying the artist even if the work cannot go ahead. Please read full statement from the Arts Council here.
- The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has issued this statement honouring funding commitments for 2020 and advising future applications to take into consideration current restrictions around travel and public participation.
How can I/we help?
- Thank you to everyone who completed our COVID-19 Impact survey. We were able to use this information and highlight the impact of the crisis on our sector to our stakeholders. The results of the survey are available here.
- Back in April the Arts Council conducted a survey on the impact of Covid-19 on artists. You can find the results here. They also have set up a new support page where you can find all their Covid-19 related updates. Find that here.
- The Charities Regulatory Authority were previously seeking data on the impact of covid 19 on charities, results are still pending. In the meantime they have compiled a helpful Covid-19 FAQ page available here, which is designed to help answer common questions charities are asking during this time.
- The National Campaign for the Arts are seeking your data on a weekly basis here.
- Please support the work of the Irish Showmen’s Guild in protecting the future of the Touring Funfairs and Circus community by signing their petition here.
- The Civic Theatre have very generously initiated an Artists Emergency Relief Fund, which you may donate to and support artists that are struggling to survive through this crisis. Make your donation here.
- The Bread and Butter fund to support artists in Northern Ireland welcomes donations here.
- The Community Foundation of Ireland have started an Emergency relief fund for vulnerable communities. More information about how to become a partner is here.