COVID-19 restrictions are being gradually relaxed, and many arts organisations will find themselves in a position to reopen their doors and their staff can start to return to work. For the past number of months, many employers and employees have been availing of government supports and the reopening will have significant implications in this area. The Arts Council asked Crowe solicitors to answer some of the questions they may have.
Reopening Implications for Government Supports
Now that COVID-19 restrictions are being gradually relaxed, many arts organisations will find themselves in a position to reopen their doors and their staff can start to return to work. For the past number of months, many employers and employees have been availing of government supports and the reopening will have significant implications in this area.
My employees have been on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment while we were closed by the restrictions. Do they need to take any action
Yes. Any of your employees who are returning to paid employment should stop claiming the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) on their first day back at work. It is the responsibility of each employee to close their claim, and this can be done through the www.welfare.ie website. They will need to create a MyGovID account, but this is a simple process and they will most likely already have created one when applying for the PUP.
The PUP is paid on a weekly basis and a week, for these purposes, runs from Thursday to Friday. Once an individual has at least one qualifying day in the week they will receive the PUP for the full week so that, for example where an employee returns to work on a Monday, they will receive payment up to the following Thursday.
Even though we have been closed for the last few months we have continued to pay our employees using the EWSS. Can we continue to do so?
Yes, provided you continue to meet the qualifying conditions for the scheme.
The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) was due to expire on 30 June 2021 but has been extended to 31 December 2021. Currently, in order to qualify for the scheme, the employer must expect their business to experience a 30% decline in turnover or customer orders in the period 1 January 2021 to 30 June 2021, relative to the same period in 2019, as a result of the disruption caused by COVID-19. In order to qualify after 30 June 2021 however, the employer must expect a 30% decline for 2021 as a whole relative to 2019 as a whole.
While the employer must review if this condition continues to be met at the end of each month, the test is applied for the six or twelve-month period as a whole and not on a monthly basis. Now that you are reopening this will likely have an impact on your projections for the period as a whole and you should therefore review the matter to ensure that you are satisfied that you continue to meet the conditions.
My employees were on the PUP and we haven’t availed of EWSS. Can we now avail of the scheme?
Yes, provided you are satisfied that you will meet the conditions as set out above. Once registered, you can claim the scheme for all subsequent pay dates up to 30 June 2021 or 31 December 2021, as appropriate.
Fortunately, despite the restrictions we have been able to work from home and some of our staff will continue to do so for the next while. I have heard something about tax relief for this, but I am confused as to whether it is the employer or employee who is meant to claim it. Can you please explain?
Yes, remote working (where the employees are required to work some or all of the time from home, as opposed to merely bringing work home at evenings or weekends) does attract some tax relief and there are two options in this regard.
In the first instance, an employer may choose to pay the employees a daily expense allowance of up to €3.20 for each day worked from home without it being taxable. In the event that the allowance exceeds this amount, then the excess is subject to PAYE, USC and PRSI, and the employer must withhold and remit this through payroll.
In the event that the employer does not pay this allowance, the employee may themselves instead claim a tax credit. Currently, they may claim up to 10% of their light and heat bills and 30% of broadband bills but this must be further restricted to the number of days actually worked from home and bear in mind that weekends and Bank Holidays as well as annual leave are not generally considered to be workdays. The qualifying expense, as calculated may then be deducted from their taxable pay and relief is obtained at their marginal rate of tax but no relief is available from USC nor from PRSI.
For the past few months, we have claimed CRSS. What impact does the reopening have on this?
The COVID-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) was introduced last October for business and organisations that were required by COVID-19 restrictions to prohibit or considerably restrict customers from accessing their business premises and whose average weekly turnover for the restricted period was no more than 25% of their average weekly turnover for 2019. For the duration of the restrictions, a qualifying business received a weekly payment based on their average weekly turnover for 2019 up to a maximum of €5,000 per week.
Once the restrictions are lifted so that you are no longer required to restrict customer access to your premises, you may no longer claim CRSS.
Organisations and businesses claiming CRSS however are entitled to a restart payment on reopening. Ordinarily, this is one additional week of payments up to a maximum of €5,000. For those that reopened between 29 April 2021 and 2 June 2021 however, this payment was paid for two weeks and at double the normal rate, so that the maximum payment was €20,000. For those reopening after 2 June 2021, this double payment will be paid for three weeks, up to a maximum payment of €30,000.
If you haven’t claimed CRSS but believe that you actually qualified, you may in certain cases be able to backdate the claim for up to eight weeks and possibly also claim the double restart week. You should however take advice on this point before making a claim as significant penalties apply for incorrect claims.
It's great that we are reopening but with ongoing social distancing requirements it will still be a struggle to make ends meet. Are there any other supports that we should be aware of?
Potentially. The government have recently announced a new scheme, the Business Resumption Support Scheme (BRSS). This will be available for businesses or organisations who have profits taxable under Schedule D, Case I and whose turnover in the twelve-month period from 1 September 2020 to 31 August 2021 is reduced by at least 75% compared with 2019. Some commercial arts venues for example might qualify. The scheme will not be restricted by location, rate paying or physical premises.
The scheme will operate along the same lines as CRSS and qualifying businesses will receive three weeks’ payments in September 2021. Further details will be announced in due course.
Webinar on the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS)
The Arts Council hosted a webinar with colleagues from Revenue on 31 August to outline key changes in the transition from the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) to the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS). The webinar also dealt with aspects of the
transition including qualifying criteria and compliance. For information, further details on the EWSS can be accessed in newly-published guidelines, available here.
You can watch the recorded webinar in full at: EWSS webinar.
Sectoral advice and support
The Arts Council supports a number of resource and representative organisations to provide advice and information to artists within their given sector. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, many are providing support and advice online. A list of resource
organisations is gathered here for information.
Arts and Health
artsandhealth.ie is the national website for arts and health in Ireland (managed by Waterford Healing Arts Trust, and also funded by the HSE), and the Arts Council is working closely with
the team there to showcase artwork online and to highlight resources and supports for the wellbeing of artists, health professionals and all residents in Ireland at this time.
artsandhealth.ie screens film, video, written and visual arts work, hosts workshops and facilitates discussions about arts health and wellbeing at this extraordinary time of physical distancing and social isolation.
Focusing in particular on the issues affecting artists, health professionals and some of the most vulnerable members of our community at this time - those that are older, that live with mental ill health, have underlying health conditions, and those
that regrettably become ill with COVID-19. The Arts Council is also working with the HSE Health and Wellbeing Division to explore other ways in which it can support the arts, health and community sectors at this time.
Age and Opportunity
Age and Opportunity is the national development organisation improving the quality of life of people aged 50 – 100+. It operates a year round arts and culture programme and runs professional development workshops
to support older artists. https://ageandopportunity.ie
Arts and Disability Ireland (ADI)
Arts & Disability Ireland (ADI) is the national development and resource organisation for arts and disability. ADI’s mission includes a commitment to ensure that artists with disabilities experience
no barriers in making art. Its work includes brokering relationships between artists with disabilities and presenters, curators and producers to foster creative and equitable engagement. http://adiarts.ie
Centre for Creative Practices
The Centre for Creative Practices is dedicated to connecting, integrating, and promoting migrant and culturally diverse artists, and developing intercultural arts practices in Ireland. https://cfcp.ie
Create is the national development agency for collaborative arts. It offers supports for artists working in social and community contexts including professional development, mentoring, training and research. https://www.create-ireland.ie/
Circus, street arts and spectacle
Irish Street Arts, Circus and Spectacle Network (ISACS)
The Irish Street Arts, Circus & Spectacle Network (ISACS) is Ireland's support and advocacy organisation for the development of these collective artforms. ISACS acts as a point
of information and resource sharing for Street Arts, Circus and Spectacle as well as conducting research and advocating for its members. ISACS also provides access to training, networking and other professional development supports. https://www.isacs.ie
The Irish Aerial Creation Centre (IACC)
The Irish Aerial Creation Centre is a place for people to unlock their creativity. IACC is Ireland’s first purpose-fitted space for aerial dance and home to Fidget Feet Aerial Dance Company,
the founders. Professional development is supported by the Irish Art Council’s grant through residencies, classes, workshops and performance opportunities. IACC houses the first intensive professional programme for aerialists in the country and is
a home for creativity in aerial circus on an international scale.
Dance Ireland is the representative body for dance in Ireland. It is a membership organisation providing supports, resources information and advice. It works with dance artists at all stages of their career to advance
their artistic and professional development. https://www.danceireland.ie
Dance Limerick promotes, supports and celebrates dance creation, presentation and participation. Dance Limerick Studio and offices are based at 1-2 John's Square, Limerick, in the heart of the city. Directly across
the square is the Dance Limerick Space (St John's Church, formerly Daghdha). https://dancelimerick.ie/
The Firkin Crane
Firkin Crane, the home of dance in Cork, is a place where
dance artists, dance audiences and dance enthusiasts can make, see and join in dance of all kinds. Firkin Crane is unique as a resource for dance in Ireland in that it has a stage dedicated to the year-round presentation of dance. In addition it has
smaller performance spaces, an exhibition space and four dance studios, all housed in a distinctive heritage building. These resources are important because of what they support people to do: to experiment with, to create and to enjoy dance in its
many forms. https://www.firkincrane.ie/
Galway Dance Project
Galway Dance Project is an artist-led, non-profit dance organisation established in 2011 in Galway. The Project aims
to provide high quality dance classes and workshops, as well as choreographic and performance opportunities, for dancers in Galway city and county. Galway Dance Project delivers supports and resources to the dance sector and promotes the development
of dance, as well as aiming to advance dance as a prominent and valued art form in the region. http://galwaydanceproject.com/
aemi supports and regularly exhibits moving image works by artists and experimental filmmakers. Since its formation in 2016 aemi’s key objective has been to provide support for artists working with the moving image in order to
contribute to a developing infrastructure around these practices in Ireland. https://aemi.ie/
Irish Writers Centre (IWC)
The Irish Writer’s Centre (IWC) is the national resource centre for Irish literature. It seeks to support writers at all stages of their development.
Literature Ireland is the national agency in Ireland for the promotion of Irish literature abroad. We work to build an international awareness and appreciation of contemporary Irish literature, primarily in translation.
Munster Literature Centre
The Munster Literature Centre is dedicated to the promotion and celebration of literature, especially that
of Munster. To this end, the organisation organises festivals, workshops, readings and competitions. http://www.munsterlit.ie/
Poetry Ireland is the national organisation for poetry in Ireland and is dedicated to developing, supporting and promoting poetry throughout Ireland. https://www.poetryireland.ie/
Words Ireland is a grouping of seven literature organisations who have worked collaboratively to provide coordinated
professional development and resource services to the literature sector. http://wordsireland.ie
Contemporary Music Centre
The Contemporary Music Centre is Ireland's national resource and archive for new music. It supports and represents new music composers in Ireland and Northern Ireland. https://www.cmc.ie/
First Music Contact (FMC)
First Music Contact is a free information and advice resource for musicians and the independent music sector in Ireland. FMC runs a number of professional development programmes for aspiring and emerging
Improvised Music Company (IMC)
Improvised Music Company (IMC) is a resource organisation for Irish and Irish-based jazz musicians, and a specialist promoter of jazz, improvised and ethnic music in Ireland. Their website features
a dedicated resources section designed to help and guide musicians throughout their careers: https://www.improvisedmusic.ie/
Music Network is Ireland’s national music touring and development organisation. https://www.musicnetwork.ie
Theatre Forum is the resource and representative organisation for the performing arts in Ireland. It provides seminars, training and a networking forum to share knowledge and expertise. Members of Theatre Forum can access
a suite of tools, templates, factsheets and other resources. It conducts research, undertakes campaigns and advocates for positive change for all those working professionally in the performing arts sector. Members include arts centres and venues,
independent artists, production companies, producers, arts festivals and arts administrators. https://www.theatreforum.ie
Irish Theatre Institute (ITI)
Irish Theatre Institute (ITI) is a theatre resource organisation. It supports professional theatre artists to develop sustainable careers and provides mentoring, training and continuing professional
development for theatre makers. http://irishtheatreinstitute.ie
Trad Ireland / Traid Éireann
Trad Ireland / Traid Éireann is a resource and representative organisation, promoting the traditional arts throughout the island of Ireland. https://www.trad-ireland.com/
Cairdeas na bhFidiléirí
Cairdeas na bhFidiléirí is dedicated to supporting, researching and promoting fiddle playing in the Donegal tradition.
Irish Traditional Music Archive (ITMA)
national archive for Irish traditional song, instrumental music and dance, ITMA is a resource for musicians, researchers and the general public, with a large multi-media collection, query service, programmes in field recording, publishing and broadcasting.
Na Píobairí Uilleann
Na Píobairí Uilleann is dedicated to developing the playing and making of the uilleann pipes and the Irish music tradition. It provides training,
archive, research, concerts and education activities.
Visual Artists Ireland (VAI)
Visual Artists Ireland is the representative body for professional visual artists in Ireland. VAI Supporting Visual Artists at all stages of their professional careers and provides a suite of services
including an information helpdesk, and a set of online guides and information sheets. https://visualartists.ie
Young people, children and education
Children’s Books Ireland (CBI)
CBI is the national children’s books organisation of Ireland. Through its activities and events, the organisation aims to engage young people with books, foster a greater understanding of the importance
of books for young people and act as a core resource for those with an interest in books for children in Ireland. Its mission includes supporting children’s book authors and illustrators. https://childrensbooksireland.ie
Irish Association of Youth Orchestras
The national membership body for youth orchestras in Ireland provides services, facilities and resources to local and regional youth orchestras. http://www.iayo.ie/
National Youth Council of Ireland
The National Youth Council of Ireland's youth arts programme supports and advises youth organisations that wish to run arts programmes. https://www.youtharts.ie/programmes/youth-arts/
Youth Theatre Ireland
The national development organisation for youth theatre and drama in Ireland. Youth Theatre Ireland supports the development of theatre for young people through artistic programming, information
and support services, and policy advice.
Digital Guides - a collection of digital resources for artists
As a part of the Arts Council’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, we have created a number of digital guides to help artists across a wide range of artforms learn the fundamentals of digital dissemination of their work.
The aim of these guides is to make accessible the creation and sharing of digital files which will allow artists to represent their work online. We hope that these resources will help practitioners reach new audiences for their work both during the current
crisis and in the future.
The guides can be viewed at http://www.artscouncil.ie/digital-guides/
We are happy to receive images of artists' work for potential use on our website, social media channels, or in our publications. If you wish to, you can share your images with us through our online image bank at artscouncil.ie/imagebank