Choral evensong

Call on professional artists to avail of expansion of Jobseeker’s Allowance

SIPTU representatives have called on professional artists to avail of an expansion in the categories of those eligible to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance while they focus on their artistic work and to develop their portfolio.

SIPTU Services Division Organiser, Karan O Loughlin, said: “Visual artists and writers have this month been joined by artists such as screen writers, film directors and film actors in being able to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance under this scheme.

“Those eligible for the scheme also include those involved in the theatre art form, specifically actors, costume designers, theatre directors, set designers and stage designers. Musicians, dancers, choreographers, opera composers and circus and street performers complete the list of artistic disciplines who are now included in the scheme.”

She added: “This development should greatly benefit artists, many of whom are in precarious working positions and due to the nature of their work have periods when a lack of earnings is a serious problem. That the Government has recognised that specific and special measures are needed to assist these workers is positive.

“It should also mark a step forward on the path to recognition of the professional status and value of performing artists in Ireland. However, we also need a broader discussion about the working lives of artists and their capacity to have longevity and dignity in their careers. The way to truly value artists is to ensure they can make a secure living from their work and that means the development of a basic income scheme for them.”

In order to qualify for the scheme, professional artists must apply for and satisfy the qualifying conditions for Jobseeker’s Allowance including a means test.  They must be unemployed, capable of, available for and actively seeking work. 

Applicants are also required to provide a certificate/declaration from their professional body as to their status as a professional artist. They must be registered as self-employed with the Office of the Revenue Commissioners and at least 50% of their income should be derived from their art in the previous year. Participants on the scheme can, on a voluntary basis, continue to avail of the supports of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection’s Public Employment Service.

Public Liability insurance in the Arts industry – have your say!

Do you use Public Liability Insurance? Is it too Expensive? The union is endeavoring to understand the requirement for public liability insurance for people who work in the arts industry. Can you take 60 seconds to answer these few short questions so we can establish if the union is in a position to provide this insurance to you at a lower cost. Fill in the survey!

Dermot Doolan – RIP

Irish Equity are sorry to announce the death of Dermot Doolan over the weekend. Dermot, was a founder member and former Secretary of Irish Actors’ Equity Association. Dermot was also the first Secretary of the ITGWU Cultural Division and is pictured here receiving Honorary Lifetime Membership of the union in honour of his work and commitment to the union.  Dermot gave long and valuable service to the union, working tirelessly over the years for better conditions for actors in both the live performance sector and the audio-visual sector.

Dermot also represented the union at European and International level within the International Federation of Actors (FIA) and the European Federation of Actors (EuroFIA). Dermot was instrumental in organising the holding of the first ever EuroFIA meeting in Dublin. Dermot was the beloved husband of his late wife Eta and loving father to Jean, Mimi, Mark, Adrienne and Ōrla. Dermot will be sadly missed by his loving family, grandchildren, great grandchild, sons-in-law, daughter-in-law, nieces, nephews, extended family and friends. Funeral arrangements for Dermot are as follows: Reposing at the Kirwan Funeral Home, Ballygall Road West on Monday 26th August between 5.30 p.m. and 8.00 p.m. Removal on Tuesday 27th August to St. Canice’s Church, Finglas Village, arriving for 10 o’clock Requiem Mass followed by funeral to Glasnevin Crematorium. Family flowers only, please. Donations, if desired, to the Society of St. Vincent De Paul.

Irish Equity meet Arts Council

Irish Equity Executive delegation met with the Arts Council on Friday 26th July re maximising affordable performance and rehearsal spaces. Photo from left to right: Irish Equity Executive members Pádraig Murray (President), Ann Russell and Gerry Lee.

Extension of protection scheme for performing artists welcomed

Following a review of the pilot social protection scheme for writers and visual artists, the Government has announced its extension to professional performing artists. The extension of the scheme will now see the inclusion of actors, musicians, street performers, dancers and other artists whose professional status will be designated by the fact that a minimum of 50%
of their income is generated through their professional work. For the first time these earnings can also include teaching within their profession.

Irish Equity supports this initiative as a positive step forward on the path to recognition of the professional status and value of performing artists in Ireland. However, a broader discussion about the working lives of artists and their capacity to have longevity and dignity in their careers is now needed. The way to truly value artists is to ensure they can make a secure living from their work and that means the development of a basic income scheme for these professionals.

Photo from left to right: Stephen Spence, Equity UK with Padraig Murray and Karan OLoughlin, Irish Equity and Louis Rolston, Equity UK (right), outside Liberty Hall for the recent Equity Ireland/ Equity UK Action Group meeting.

Equity members mourn Karl Shiels

Irish Equity members are saddened to hear of the untimely passing of actor, Karl Shiels.

Born in Dublin, Karl was well known in theatre and TV circles having made many appearances at the Abbey, the Gate and many other venues.

As a founding member and Artistic Director of Theatre Upstairs, Karl was keenly aware of the need to create an independent theatre where self-producing artists could realise their full, creative ambition. As a freelance actor and director, he has worked extensively on stage and screen both nationally and internationally for almost two decades. He was given a Best Actor Award at the Dublin Theatre Festival for his role in Comedians in 1999 and received a nomination for a Best Actor Award at the Irish Times Theatre Awards in 2011 and in the 2010 Stage Awards.

Karl has stared in many TV productions over the years, including the Tudors, Peaky Blinders and he has, of course, been a regular feature in Carrickstown in RTE’s Fair City.

Karl is survived by his partner Laura Honan, his twin daughters and their mother Dearbhla, his father Harry, stepmother Irene, brother Jason, sisters Lisa and Lianne, stepbrother Justin, aunt Nan, uncles John and Jimmy, nephews and nieces. Karl will be sadly missed by all his relatives and a very large circle of friends, within the acting community and beyond.

A Tribute to Tom Jordan – Actor and Director

Another great loss to Irish Theatre and to Equity, is the passing of the talented, veteran actor, Tom Jordan. Born in Marino, Dublin in 1937, Tom first made his mark in 1968, as a member of the RTE Players, honing his skills in hundreds of broadcasts.

On leaving RTÉ in 1972 he became a founding member of the Project Arts Centre in Kings Street and, appeared on RTE Television in Ulick O’Connor’s The Rock. That same year he became Actor- Manager for Godfrey Quigley’s World Theatre Productions, initiating the very innovative “Dinner Theatre” performances in the Gresham Hotel, and in Wexford, for many seasons.

During this time Tom was now making his mark in Film and Television and, of the thirty or more productions, in which he appeared, he achieved fame as Farrell in Strumpet City. In 1981 he played Seamus Doherty with Pierce Brosnan in, The Manions of America, teaming up with him again in 1984 in Remmington Steele. Five years later, he was one of the original cast members of Fair City, starring as Charlie Kelly in almost 150 Episodes.

Tom’s heart, however, had always been in theatre, having performed in Dublin Theatre Festival Seasons and, in popular productions of, Is the Priest at Home? Da, and The Whip Hand. In 1987 he became Director of the Lyric Theatre, Belfast for two years.

Despite the high profile that Tom attained through talent, and diligence, he was always a very private person, meticulous in his preparation and always dependable, but his performances had a quiet power and a great stage and screen ‘presence’.

I had the honour of appearing with him in The Manions of America and on Radio. He was a generous actor, great company, a team player and a fine mentor of young talent. A strong supporter of Irish Equity, Tom was one of the few remaining actors to have successfully plied his trade in every avenue of his beloved profession, now sadly bereft of such talent and experience.

Laurence Foster June 30th 2019.

Pegg Monahan – A Tribute

It is with great sadness that I have received the news of the death of actress, friend and colleague, Pegg Monahan, at the great age of 97. Pegg was the last of the founding members of the RTE Players, Radio Repertory Company. She was also a founding member of “WAAMA” the Writers-Actors-Artists & Musicians Association of Ireland and, was instrumental in it becoming Irish Actor’s Equity.

A fine stage actress, Pegg performed in the original production of Knocknagow and then joined Lord Longford’s Company in the Gate Theatre. In 1947 she began her illustrious radio career which spanned four decades, during which time she performed in more than 1,000 radio plays and classic dramatisations. She also starred in several television plays including “The Weaver’s Grave” and “Somerville & Ross”. Pegg Monahan became a household name in the 1950s and 60s with her portrayal of the long suffering Mrs Foley in David Hayes’ long running comedy series, The Foley Family. In 1982, Pegg crowned her broadcasting career with a brilliant portrayal of Mollie Bloom in the record breaking 32 hour, unabridged, RTE Radio broadcast of UIlysses. Those of us privileged enough to have worked with Pegg will miss her greatly.

She had a regal charm and an inner calm that put everyone at ease. She helped and guided young actors and was generous and sympathetic. Her versatility knew no bounds and, from Dublin housewives and country matriarchs to a chilling Mrs Danvers in Rebecca, her range was so impressive.

Ireland has lost a great actress and a true radio artist. Joyously, we will hear her like again, as that artistry has been preserved in Archive. “Her familiar voice, wearies not ever!” Shelley.

Laurence Foster. May 25th 2019.

Irish Equity 2019 AGM

More details and venue to follow.