Minister for Arts and Culture Catherine Martin has described new grants for the live entertainment sector as an effort “to keep the doors open”.
Speaking on RTÉ radio’s News at One, Ms Martin said that she understood that the 50 per cent capacity rule was not viable which was why the new grants would be available from Friday, December 17th.
The €50 million fund includes €2.5 million for seasonal events such as pantomimes, €5 million for “town hall performances” which will be disbursed through local authorities and €34 million in the form of a live performance support scheme for events that have had to be cancelled, scaled back or rescheduled, she explained.
Just announced - new supports for live performance:
🟢€5m- seasonal musical theatre/panto
🟢min. €34m- Live Performance Support Schemes
🟢€5m- adaptation grants for live venues
🟢€1m- St Patrick's Festival 2022
🟢€5m- Local Authorities to support artists/performance
— Catherine Martin TD (@cathmartingreen) December 8, 2021
Ms Martin said that the main grant would cover half of the costs for events that have to be cancelled or rescheduled.
She said the sector had shouldered “a very heavy burden”, a fact of which she was acutely aware. “That’s not where we want to be.”
“We’re stepping in to help. We will provide grants of up to 50 per cent towards costs.”
Ms Martin said that 60 per cent would be prepaid once it was determined that the event qualified. Her "absolute focus" was on keeping performers on stage, she added.
It was important to provide certainty for the sector and for the people it employed, she explained.
The Minister for Culture also said there would be a further €14 million available from February to June so that events could go ahead.
'Trying to get it right'
As reported in the Irish Examiner, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said a backdated Covid support package for the sector will be signed off on Wednesday evening.
Mr Varadkar said he had been in contact with Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe about the scheme on Wednesday morning.
"We are trying to get it right. There is a Government decision made already that allows a degree of flexibility around the things that businesses are concerned about, which is the cap, for example, and the turnover rule," the Tánaiste said.
"So we just want to make sure we get it right so that we are able to target the financial support to those companies that need it the most and that is those in the hospitality the events and arts sector."
According to the Fine Gael leader, even if payments are delayed, they will be backdated to when the latest Covid measures were announced.
"Any inconvenience or loss will be a matter of time not a matter of money. We will backdate to the date on which the restrictions were imposed," Mr Varadkar said.