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NCFA meeting reveals: Still many questions unanswered

Continued and unchanged rates of PUP and EWSS support for artists is the most immediate point of the pre-submission budget that the NCFA is trying to press for, that’s what the NCFA sectoral meeting today revealed.
“The Stage Door (Olympia Theatre In Dublin)” by infomatique is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The National Campaign For the Arts sectoral meeting today revealed that continued and unchanged rates of the Pandemic Unemplyment Payment and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme support for artists is the most immediate point of the NCFA’s pre-submission budget. 

“We came to this pandemic with the Arts already in awful state,” said Angela Dorgan, chair of NCFA. She further explained how there are two pandemics that must be dealt with – the Covid pandemic itself and Brexit. The goal is to ensure that the Arts sector continues to be supported. 

Another NCFA update is that members of the committee were able to demonstrate how ‘robust’ the sector is in its response to Covid during their meeting with government officials and that ‘gave them some confidence about the sector’.

Other pressing needs are sustaining Culture Ireland, a total insurance reform, a new directive for copyright, and the establishment of an Arts and Culture recovery Taskforce.

They’ll also be seeking clarification on the latest guidelines for Arts and Culture events. The guidelines are still changeable, according to the NCFA committee members. Those impacted by the guidelines were advised to contact the Arts Unit of the Department of Culture or the Arts Council if there’s an issue that needs to be clarified. 

Two questions would need further clarification – will PUP stop if there’s some ‘sporadic work’ and can people be on and off on PUP.

Minister Heather Humphreys previously suggested that musicians & entertainers could accept sporadic work without it affecting their PUP but has not further clarified what is considered sporadic work and what isn’t.

One of the biggest fears in the sector is that artists just won’t take work for fear of PUP stopping. It’s not yet clear if PUP would stop if an artist accepts a PAYE job. 

During the latter half of the meeting, the Q&A session, it was clarified that 2 meters social distancing is still the requirement for venues who were not restaurants and pubs that serve food.

The NCFA also confirmed that whether artists would be classified as essential workers would be decided on a case by case basis. This can be discussed with the Arts Unit of the Government, the Arts Council, or the NCFA which can check that on a person’s behalf. 

The meeting ended with the suggestion of experimenting with ‘trial events’, something which the UK is currently trying, and NCFA committee members saying they’ll be asking the Government to ensure that the local authorities support the Arts. 

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