Council today welcomed a new government initiative to help artists access
social welfare supports, saying the pilot scheme represented a progressive step
and a clear signal from the government that Ireland places special value on the
work of artists.
announced today by the Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar TD, and the
Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather
Humphreys TD, aims to help self-employed writers and visual artists who apply
to the Department of Social Protection for Jobseeker’s Allowance. Under the new
mechanism, artists meeting a set of criteria will not be subject to the
Department of Social Protection’s ‘activation process’ for 12 months.
this morning, Arts Council Director Orlaith McBride said the pilot was a very
welcome signal from the government that the work of artists has a central place
in Irish society.
scheme recognises for the first time that artists’ incomes do not follow the
same patterns as the majority of people,” Ms McBride said. “Of course we accept
Minister Humphreys’ view that this initiative is not a pancea -- and may apply
to a relatively small number of artists -- but we are fully committed to
working with her and Minister Varadkar over the coming 12 months to monitor and
evaluate the initiative, and, we hope, expand and improve it in the years to
Council, the state agency for developing the arts, has for many decades
advocated for artists, and has published research demonstrating that artists’
incomes are on average far lower than those of people in almost all other
sectors. As part of its remit under the Arts Act (2003), the agency offers
advice to the Government on arts-related matters, and has in the past urged,
encouraged and initiated enlightened policy, such as the artists’ tax exemption
and the creation of Aosdána.
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