12,000 Arts Events Cancelled and Hundreds in the Arts Laid Off

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan – ‘arts sector has been deeply affected’

12,000 Arts Events Cancelled and Hundreds in the Arts Laid Off

Arts Council surveys start to show the scale of pandemic's impact on cultural sector.

The Arts Council has published the results of two surveys undertaken in late March and the first half of April, both of which reveal the scale of losses in the arts sector.

Ninety per cent of the almost two thousand artists surveyed have been impacted by the cancellation or postponement of events, with many respondents to the survey describing the effect on their finances as ‘severe’ and almost half applying for the Government’s Covid-19 unemployment payment.

Arts organisations estimated the loss of audience at 2.4 million people and growing, with more than twelve thousand events cancelled and hundreds of staff members laid off.

Among the results in the surveys are:

– Over 112,000 tickets had been sold for activities that will not now take place;
– Over €3.85m invested in activities now cancelled/postponed;
– Potential income of €6.4m now lost as a result of activities cancelled;
– 269 staff have lost their jobs; 
– Over 90% of artists report that restrictions have impacted their role in creating new work;
– Almost half of artists report being asked to provide content for online consumption but 57% have not been offered any payment in this regard.

As these surveys took place in late March and early April it is likely that the impact on the arts has intensified over the past month. Despite the fact that the Government says arts venues can open from 10 August, there is still considerable uncertainty around how this can be achieved while complying with social distancing guidelines. 

Commenting on the survey results, Arts Council Chair Professor Kevin Rafter said the figures will help the Council develop a response for the sector:

The Arts Council will work with government and local authorities to put in place a coordinated national plan for the arts… We will work closely with arts resource organisations to identify necessary and appropriate supports and interventions…

Minister for Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD said the results confirm ‘that the arts sector has been deeply affected by the measures introduced to protect public health in the face of Covid-19.’ She added that engagement between Government and the Council ‘will increase as we work together to overcome the considerable challenges ahead as we re-open Ireland.’

Schemes cancelled and new committee
The Arts Council has also announced that certain schemes such as Touring Round 1 have been cancelled. The new director Maureen Kennelly said ‘The decision to cancel was made so that money can be reallocated into schemes like bursaries and commissions, which we believe are of greater practical help for artists, given the ongoing uncertainty and continuing restrictions.’

Last week, the Council established a new committee to advise it on the challenges facing the arts. Members include Martin Hayes, Angela Dorgan, Lenny Abrahamson and Fintan O’Toole.

For more on the survey results, visit www.artscouncil.ie.

Published on 12 May 2020

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