Universal Basic Income for the Arts

Workers in our arts, culture, live performance and events industry need this emergency support if they are to survive this crisis and rebuild our creative futures to sustain and unite people in a post covid world. Sign the petition today.

Irish Equity seeks meeting with Fine Gael leadership following voiceover debacle

Irish Equity seeks meeting with Fine Gael leadership following voiceover debacle

Date Released: 12 March 2021

Members of Irish Equity have today (Friday, 12th March) written to the chairperson of Fine Gael requesting an urgent meeting with the party leadership following media reports that the party has posted a series of ill-judged requests across social media aimed at Irish film, television and radio workers.

SIPTU Sector and Irish Equity Organiser, Martin O’Rourke said: “These posts lack even a basic understanding of the nature and quality of the work that voiceover artists perform. Media reports claim that job advertisements were posted across social media platforms advising that Fine Gael needed both a male and female voice “with an Irish-country accent” for a “quick” voiceover.  We understand that one of the adverts stated that applicants would be paid €50 less VAT for their services. Our members are demanding that Fine Gael clarify if they indeed stand over paying voiceover artists such paltry wages.”

He added: “SIPTU representatives have sought a meeting with the chairperson of Fine Gael, Richard Bruton TD, so that we can discuss the matter and to advise him of most pressing and pertinent issues facing artists in Ireland. Poor pay and a lack of real supports will be at the top of the agenda.”

Irish Equity President, Padraig Murray, said: “We are calling on Fine Gael to meet with us urgently to discuss what real solutions the Government proposes to address the low pay and precarious work crisis across our industry. The pilot for a Universal Basic Income Scheme over a three-year period in the arts, culture, audio visual, live performance and events sectors must get off the ground quickly and we are calling on the Government to make it happen.”

Life Worth Living: The Report of the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce

Life Worth Living – The Report of the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce. Read the full report

Liberties Creative Campus

Dublin City Council is consulting on the feasibility of ambitious plans to bring forward a “creative campus” in the heart of the Liberties area of Dublin 8.

The proposals are part of an Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) regeneration project that aims to deliver new workspace for artists within the city. In total three initial council owned sites have been identified, at Bridgefoot Street and at 8 and 9 Merchants Quay (the site of the former Little St Anthony’s Theatre).

The vision of the project is to jointly develop the sites and properties, and partnering with existing organisations in Dublin 8, such as the existing NCAD site, to form a campus for the arts and cultural sector that will also deliver new community facilities and public spaces.

To browse the concept plans please click here.

Click here to have your say
Please note the deadline for feedback is Wednesday 03 March 2021.

Rynagh O’Grady Tribute

Irish Equity has lost another great stalwart with the sudden death of actress, Rynagh O’Grady. She was a concerned activist for both Irish Equity and British Equity for many years. Born in Dublin in 1954, Rynagh trained at the Abbey School of acting in 1969 and made her debut there in The Becauseway. In the 1970s, she worked extensively in England in television, making 43 appearances – who could forget her Mary O’Leary in Father Ted? – and performed many leading theatre roles. Returning to Dublin in the 1980s, she was a member of the Executive Committee of Irish Equity, working tirelessly for performer’s rights. One of her last appearances was in the Abbey Theatre production of The Unmanageable Sisters. Rynagh also formed an action group, ARRO, to protect the rights of performers to their recorded material. The world of entertainment has lost a considerable talent and a powerful advocate for actors, performers and members of Equity. Rynagh will be greatly missed.

SIPTU confirms new collective agreement for independent live action film and television crew

SIPTU representatives have today (7th December) confirmed that proposals for a new collective agreement for live action film and television crew have been accepted in a ballot of union members. 

SIPTU Divisional Organiser, Karan O Loughlin, said: “This new agreement will come into operation in January 2021 and covers all grades except film construction which is subject to separate negotiations. 

“This is a good day for independent production crew. The proposals have been accepted by 83% of crew on a return of almost 70% of ballot papers. This level of support gives the agreement a very solid foundation for workers in the industry. The proposals have also been accepted by producers and we will now move quickly to set up a joint monitoring group which will oversee the implementation of the agreement and its practical operation on the ground.” 

She added: “Great credit is due to the film crew members who, as part of their SIPTU committee, worked tirelessly over the last two years to ensure we could get an agreement that is modernised and fit for purpose. This agreement deals with all aspects of day to day work for crew, enables producers to compete for work internationally and provides a pay structure that will bring stability to the industry for the next three to five years.”

Equity welcomes basic income scheme for Arts’ workers

Irish Equity has welcomed the proposal to introduce a basic income scheme for workers in the Arts sector. The scheme is among a range of supports for artists and performers which are proposed in the report of the Arts and Culture Recovery Task Force and which was accepted by the Government today. 

It will provide a tax-free payment for up to 55,000 arts workers and performers to cover their essential living costs during the current Pandemic. It would also allow them to earn taxable income when performance work becomes available. 

Karan O Loughlin of Irish Equity said: 

“Irish Equity welcomes this significant report. We have long been advocating a basic income scheme for artists and arts workers to provide them with the security required for a sustainable career. The Arts is a largely low pay sector, particularly so in the live performance area. This report recognises the uniqueness of the Arts and we now encourage the Government to act quickly on the recommendations so badly needed for the survival and development of the sector.

“We also welcome the introduction of a capital fund for local authorities to adapt and equip public spaces for cultural activities to compensate for the loss of indoor venues due to Covid-19 restrictions. The report also proposes the implementation of new copyright directives which will create a fairer value for the work of Arts workers in the future.”

READ THE FULL REPORT

Budget 2021 and the Arts

See relevant information here:

Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP)
The new weekly payment structure is as below:

  • for individuals who earn €400 and over- the rate of payment is €350
  • for individuals who earn between €300 and €399.99 per week – the rate of payment is €300 
  • for individuals who earn between €200 and €299.99 per week – the rate of payment is €250 
  • for individuals who earn less than €200 per week – the rate of payment is €203 
    More information on the PUP can be found here.
    Christmas Bonus
    A Christmas Bonus of 100% will be paid in early December 2020 to people getting a long-term social welfare payment (minimum payment €20).
    The bonus will also be paid to people getting PUP and jobseeker’s payments for at least 4 months.

Update to Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS)
Changes to the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme were announced last night. The new weekly payment structure is below. 

  • for individuals earning between 0 and €151- no subsidy €0
  • for individuals earning >€151 < €203 – the rate of payment is €203
  • for individuals earning >€203 < €300 – the rate of payment is €250
  • for individuals earning >€300 < €400 – the rate of payment €300
  • for individuals earning >€400< €1,462- the rate of payment is €350
    We are awaiting Revenue’s update publication on the scheme, pending that more detail can be found here.
     
    Debt warehousing for self-assessed taxpayers
    The tax debt warehousing scheme will be extended to taxpayers who self-assess for income tax that are adversely impacted by Covid-19. Impacted taxpayers who cannot pay their 2019 balance and preliminary tax for 2020 can defer payment for 12 months. If income for 2021 is also at least 25% lower than income for 2019, the balance of 2020 balance and 2021 Preliminary Tax can also be warehoused. Debts that are warehoused are subject to 0% interest for 12 months. After this 12-month period, a reduced interest rate of 3% per annum will apply and no surcharge will apply. More information can be found here https://www.revenue.ie/en/tax-professionals/ebrief/2020/no-1902020.aspx
    https://www.revenue.ie/en/tax-professionals/ebrief/2020/no-1902020.aspx
     
    Income Tax
    There are no changes to the standard or higher rate income tax bands.
    The Earned Income Tax Credit for the self-employed will increase from €1,500 to €1,650. This increase will also be applied for the 2020 tax year.
    The Dependent Relative Tax Credit will increase from €70 to €245.
     
    Universal Social Charge (USC)
    The ceiling of the 2% band will increase from €20,484 to €20,687, so that the salary of a full-time worker on the minimum wage will remain outside the higher rates of USC.
    The weekly income threshold for the higher rate of employer’s PRSI will increase from €394 to €398 to ensure that there is no incentive to reduce the working hours for a full-time employee on the increased minimum wage.
    Medical card holders will continue to pay a reduced rate of USC until the end of December 2021.
     
    Payments to families
    The weekly rate for a qualified child will increase by €2 from €36 to €38 for children under 12 years of age. It will increase by €5 from €40 to €45 for children aged 12 years and over (from January 2021).
  • The One-Parent Family Payment earnings threshold of €425 will be removed (from April 2021).
  • Working Family Payment income thresholds will increase by €10 per week for families with up to 3 children (from January 2021).
  • Parent’s Benefit will be extended by 3 weeks from 2 weeks to 5 weeks for parents of children born or adopted from November 2019. The period it can be taken will be extended up to your child’s second birthday or within 2 years following adoption (from April 2021).
  • The Widowed or Surviving Civil Partner Grant will increase by €2,000 from €6,000 to €8,000 (from January 2021).
  • Disability and illness payments
    The number of waiting days for Illness Benefit will be reduced from 6 days to 3 days on new claims (from the end of February 2021).
    The earnings disregard for Disability Allowance will increase by €20 per week from €120 to €140 per week (from June 2021).
    A grant of up to €500 to buy hearing aids and up to €100 towards repairs will be provided under the Treatment Benefit Scheme without requiring a matching payment by the claimant (from April 2021).
     
    State pension age
    The qualifying age for a State pension will continue to be 66. Legislation will be introduced later in 2020 to reverse the increase in pension age to 67 currently included in social welfare legislation.

    Fuel Allowance
    The Fuel Allowance will increase by €3.50 per week from €24.50 to €28 (from January 2021).

    Living Alone Increase
    The Living Alone Increase will increase by €5 per week from €14 to €19 (from January 2021).
     
    Increase for living on a specified island

    The Increase for living on a specified island will increase by €7.30 from €12.70 to €20 per week (from January 2021).
     
    Carers
    The Carer’s Support Grant will increase by €150 from €1,700 to €1,850 per year (from June 2021)
     
    COVID-19 Business supports

    The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme will continue until 31 March 2021. Supports under a similar scheme are likely to continue from 1 April 2021. The Government has applied to the EU SURE fund (the European Instrument for Temporary Support to Mitigate Unemployment Risks) for additional funding. This fund is part of the European response to help protect jobs and workers affected by COVID-19.
     
    Any employer who received excess amounts of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme must refund the overpayment to Revenue. An employer may be unable to repay the overpayment immediately, due to the impact of Covid-19 on their business, and the existing tax debt warehousing scheme will be expanded to include these repayments.
     
    The Covid Enterprise Support Grant payments have been extended until 31 March 2021. The grant is worth up to €1,000 and is aimed at sole traders who got the Government’s Restart Grant Plus.
    The waiving of commercial rates due to local authorities has been extended until the end of 2020 to support businesses impacted by COVID-19.
     
    Other COVID-19 supports include:
  • €39 million in continued access to low cost loans for business
  • €30 million for applied research in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry
  • €10 million to help businesses move online with the Online Retail Scheme
     
    COVID Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS)

    A new COVID Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) has been set up, aimed at businesses impacted by Covid-19 restrictions.
    Qualifying businesses can apply to Revenue for a cash payment. The maximum weekly payment will be €5,000. The scheme is aimed at those in the accommodation, food and arts, recreation and entertainment sectors. If the Government decides to move to a higher level of restrictions then other sectors may qualify.
    The scheme will run from 13 October 2020 until 31 March 2021.
    The following measures will apply:
  • Payments will be made when Level 3 restrictions or higher are in place in line with the Plan for Living with COVID-19
  • Businesses will qualify where government restrictions directly prohibit or restrict customer access to their premises
  • Payments will be calculated on the basis of 10% of the first €1 million in turnover and 5% thereafter, based on average VAT exclusive turnover for 2019
  • A self- assessment of 80% disruption in turnover will be required

Irish Equity calls for more support for Arts workers

Irish Equity has said that Budget 2021 does not provide enough support for artists, theatre and entertainment workers.

Karan O Loughlin, Irish Equity Organiser, said: “While the announcement by Arts minister, Catherine Martin, of critical investment in the Arts is broadly welcome, there is not enough focus on retaining artists and arts workers in the sector.

“Artists and workers are being prevented from working because of the restrictions on gatherings and they need urgent and ongoing financial support. With the Arts, Culture and Entertainment expected to be hit harder by job losses than any other sector of the economy, funding must targeted towards those artists and creatives who are most exposed. 

“Irish Equity seeks to ensure that the funding announced in the budget promptly and directly benefits our members including actors, directors and theatre makers, dancers, designers, stage managers and other creatives. These people are the backbone of the creative industry. We also want to see funding channelled into building sustainability in the Arts.   

“For Irish Equity representatives, negotiations on better pay and conditions are just one feature of our work and we also campaign for a sustainable environment for workers. Being a member of the union is even more important for those employed in the Arts and Entertainment as this public health crisis continues.”  

Karan O’Loughlin was speaking at the release of a promotional video created by Irish Equity and highlighting the importance of the work done by the union on behalf of its members. 

The video features some of Ireland’s finest acting talent, discussing why membership of Irish Equity is important and the protections it offers them in the frequently precarious freelance world.  It also demonstrates the rich and rapidly growing diversity among the membership of Irish Equity.

Watch the video now

Irish Equity Housing Survey

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to cause utter devastation right across the Arts, more and more performers, theatre makers and practitioners, musicians, entertainers, events and other workers are continuing to feel the financial strain of not being able to meet their obligations and in particular, their rent. 

In the link below, we have created a short survey to gather information to make the case for specific rent supports for your sector as it was the first to shut down and will in all likelihood be the last to reopen. We have harrowing testimonials from some artists about their accommodation situation before this pandemic but the shut sown of the sector has further exacerbated their situation.  

If you are in a rented property please take a few minutes to click on the link (its also phone friendly) and share it with other artists and arts workers.

Click here to fill out the survey