Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Arts and Heritage Niamh Smyth TD says funding announced to support artists during the COVID-19 public health emergency does not go far enough and has called on the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to review the support allocated to the sector.

“The government has launched schemes to help artists and those in the arts sector financially navigate the coronavirus outbreak. In my view these arrangements do not go far enough in supporting our arts community.

“By comparison, the German government has announced an aid package for the country’s creative and cultural sectors of €50 billion. The Arts Council in England has made £160 million of emergency funding available for their arts sector. The Welsh equivalent has allocated £7 million. While I do not expect us to be matching funding set by the German or English government’s, the sums involved show they clearly value their arts community more than the outgoing government here.

“Once again we are in a situation where the arts community are being thrown to the bottom of the pile and forgotten about. The arts are critical to our wellbeing and to our economy. The sector needs to be properly supported.

“During times of crisis people turn to the arts. It can help a nation heal during turbulent times. I worry as this crisis goes on, with the minimal supports offered by the government, many practising artists will be forced to leave the sector. When the pandemic abates artists who return will have done so through their own finances and innovation, not due to State intervention.

“It is critical that we have a co-ordinated national plan for the arts at this time. The Department must show leadership in this regard, together with the support of the Arts Council and Local Authorities. I have written to Minister Madigan calling on her to review the schemes that have been announced and to consider what other supports and interventions are needed to protect this crucial sector,” concluded Deputy Smyth.