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The NCFA Responds to the Government's Artists Social Welfare Pilot Programme

The National Campaign for the Arts welcomes yesterday's announcement by Ministers Heather Humphreys and Leo Varadkar of a new pilot social welfare scheme to improve access to income support for writers and visual artists. See the Departments' press release here.

The new mechanism will begin to address a significant issue for artists, which has been a central tenet of the NCFA’s advocacy activity since its foundation, and can often make artists unable to continue their work or require them to undertake several forms of employment to ensure subsistence. 

The NCFA notes that artists from other disciplines, particularly in the performing arts, are not covered by this new scheme, and calls on the the Departments of Social Protection and Arts, Heritage, Rural, Regional & Gaeltacht Affairs to expand the current model to include all individual artists, such as actors, composers, dancers, designers and musicians, on successful completion of the one-year pilot.

In the recent survey undertaken by the NCFA - across our membership, the wider arts community, and the general public - the improvement of living and working conditions for artists was highlighted as a major priority.  Artists continue to experience income insecurity, often earning well below the minimum wage pro-rata.

As noted in “The Living and Working Conditions of Artists in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (2010)”, the median income earned by an artist from their work was €8,000 (average income was €15,000 P/A).  Further analysis within this report highlights that female artists are likely to earn, on average, less than €10,000, while the median income was just under €6,000 P/A.

The NCFA will continue to call for improvements in conditions for artists in Ireland, including a call to get Ireland off the bottom of the European arts funding ladder.

All best wishes,

The National Campaign for the Arts