Following the presentation of Budget 2021 by Minister Paschal Donohue and Minister Michael McGrath, the ISACS Network welcomes the significant investment announced for the arts sector.

We warmly welcome the allocation of €130 million in Arts Council Ireland funding, along with the additional €50 million investment in the live events and entertainment sector. Other supports such as the establishment of the COVID Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) will provide vital support to arts organisations closed as a result of pandemic restrictions.

The ISACS Network also welcomes the establishment of the Ministerial Group for Insurance Reform chaired by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar. Insurance reform will be vital in aiding in the national recovery from COVID-19 and halting the damage to our arts and culture sector caused by unsustainable insurance costs.

Although the steps towards insurance reform being taken are absolutely critical, they won’t solve our short-term problem of zero accessible insurance product for the circus education sector and therefore the future of circus. We need to see a State insurance scheme being brought in such as that of IPB and we call on the Dept. of Arts, together with the Arts Council to work closely with the Tánaiste to ensuring that these artists and arts organisations already in receipt of state funding can avail of same.

In a report launched by Arts Council Ireland on Monday, they found that some 58 percent of total arts sector employees were in receipt of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) or the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and they estimated that between 2,000 and 2,700 arts jobs could be lost in Ireland as a result of COVID-19. Given that, we were disappointed and concerned to learn that the PUP scheme will remain on a reduced tiered system, a system that so many artists rely upon during these difficult times.

While there is much to welcome in yesterday’s budget, there is still a long way to go in ensuring the future of our sector. We wish to recognise the hard work of the National Campaign for the Arts, and to thank them for ensuring those working in the sector get heard at a national level.

Finally, we want to sincerely thank each and every one of you who took action behind our Pre-Budget Submission over the last month. Together we have worked hard to raise the voice of our sector, to be heard, recognised and listened to.