No Timeline for Musicians/Composers to be Added to Social Welfare Scheme

Leo Varadkar and Heather Humphreys at the launch of the pilot initiative to make it easier for artists to access social welfare supports.

No Timeline for Musicians/Composers to be Added to Social Welfare Scheme

Initiative begins on a trial basis for visual artists and writers only.

A new programme that will allow artists easier access to social welfare has been launched, but there is no timeline yet for musicians or composers to be added, or any details on music organisations that might be involved, the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs has confirmed.

The scheme, launched on 12 June by Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar TD, and the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD, is currently open to writers and visual artists only.

Self-employed professional artists
A key part of the Creative Ireland Programme, and developed in cooperation with the Arts Council, the pilot initiative makes it possible for the Department of Social Protection to create a new classification of self-employed professional artists, therefore making it easier for artists to apply for Jobseekers Allowance.

To qualify, an artist must be recognised by a professional body – either Visual Artists Ireland or the Irish Writers Centre – and at least 50% of their income in the preceding year must have been derived from their artistic practice.

Global footprint
Speaking at the launch of the programme, incoming Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: 

Promoting Ireland as a home for art and artists is central to may plans to double our global footprint in the years ahead. I believe it is only right that we allow for some flexibility within the social welfare system to allow artists to access social welfare supports when they need them. Up to now, artists have found it difficult to access social welfare and of course many artists take on extra jobs to support their livelihoods.

Minister Humphreys stated:

This pilot scheme is not a panacea, but it is a clear sign that the Government recognises the vital role that artists play in Irish society and that we respect and value their contribution.

Read more about Varadkar’s plans for the arts, as set out during the recent Fine Gael leadership contest, here.

For more on the new social welfare initiative, visit

Published on 12 June 2017


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