Increased funding for the Arts sector has been welcomed amid concerns that dozens of organisations and thousands of jobs in the industry are at risk. Some €50m in funding for live entertainment supports and Arts Council funding was announced in the Budget on Tuesday.
Sean Kelly, CEO of the Everyman Theatre said it is hugely positive to see the importance of the arts sector recognised.
He welcomed the increased funding for the Arts Council, which will see its budget increase €105m to €130m, adding that increased funding on the ground will ensure a safety net if businesses are forced to close.
Mr Kelly said the supports announced on Tuesday may be the difference between some businesses in the arts industry remaining open or being forced to close amid the pandemic.
“I think jobs will be saved because of cash injection but also if the wage subsidy scheme is continued,” he said. “That will be a great help to prevent jobs being lost.
“There is a huge danger of arts centres and other organisations being forced to close their doors. As a result, there’s a huge danger of thousands of jobs being lost.
“There is still a risk of those things happening in the current climate - we’re not out of the woods yet, it depends on what the rest of 2020 and 2021 brings.”
Dr Barry O’Connor, president of Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), also welcomed the funding.
“We have a lot of graduates out there from our School of Music and the Crawford College of Art and Design who gained their employment in the Arts and Culture Industry,” he said.
“It’s great to see the sector recognised and receive funding. It’s a sector that has suffered a lot in recent months. It’s an important sector that contributes to the fabric of our society.”
Mr Kelly said measures to support the arts and culture sector are particularly welcome amid a campaign in the UK aimed at encouraging workers in the sector to ‘reskill’.
“I believe they didn’t even have permission to use the photo of the ballerina in their campaign, which has now gone viral, so they showed a complete disregard for the sector right from the start,” he said. “Only measuring things by their profitability is not what the Arts are for.
“It’s not what we stand for as the majority of arts organisations are not-for-profit. We exist to enrich people’s lives, not make profit for people.
“We want to keep people working in the Arts sector and make jobs in the area more viable, and not drive them out of the jobs just because somebody thinks it’s not profitable enough.”