The Irish Street Arts, Circus and Spectacle Network (ISACS) that support and encourage the collective art forms of arts, circus and spectacle released their Pre-Budget Submission yesterday.
According to the Economic and Social Research Institute’s analysis, the Irish GDP is expected to decrease by around 13 per cent in 2020, as several sectors of the economy struggle for survival.
Amongst other hugely impacted sectors, the Arts and Culture sector will be the last to return.
Transforming the cultural landscape of the street, circus and spectacle sector in Ireland, ISACS celebrated their 10th year in existence unfortunately in dubiousness and despair with the fear of shutting down.
Despite having fostered strong relationships with the Arts Council, Culture Ireland, local authorities, Irish and international festivals such as Waterford Spraoi and National Circus Festival of Ireland, ISACS is now struggling to pay many of its employees and is left with little or no means to grow.
“We employ one and a half people, one full time and one part-time, and receive €71,000 for the year and all our work… We are arguing in our Pre-Budget Submission that the sector needs 2.5 million to meet the demand.”Lucy Medlycott, Director of the Irish Street Arts, Circus and Spectacle Network,
The network calls upon the government to support and secure the future of the Street Arts, Circus and Spectacle sector which gravely suffers as a result of the global pandemic.
Akin to the top-five demands of NCFA and EPIC, ISACS demand that the government must increase funding for the Arts Council to €135 million in 2021, and must ensure artists and arts workers are supported through the PUP and EWSS until mass gatherings and cultural events are permitted again.
Other than these demands, ISACS majorly stress upon a guarantee of a fixed fund with an increase from the Arts Council in 2021 to bring the allocation to a minimum of €2.5million to support the three art forms of street arts, circus, and spectacle.
The Street Arts, Circus and Spectacle sector, which has been largely impacted by the cancellation of the St. Patrick’s Festival, received 1.5% of the Arts Council exchequer funding in 2019. This funding of €1.17million was divided across the country and supported approximately 34 artists/organisations, ranging from individual artists to large scale production companies.
According to ISACS’ data (2019), the sector employed over 500 people as artists, teachers, management, administrators and practitioners, and engaged with over 18,800 individuals through direct training programmes and social engagement projects.
ISACS demand that the funding through the Arts council be increased majorly because of the increasing growth of the sector in addition to the high losses incurred during the pandemic.
In its Pre-Budget Submission, ISACS state that a live audience of approximately 110,060 was reached in 2019 at key flagship events. This audience was of the four core strategic organisations in the Street Arts, Circus & Spectacle field, who present work to the public.
The Arts Council funding contribution for these 4 organisations in 2019 was €726,000.00. Therefore the subsidy for this art form currently stands at approximately €6.60 per capita.
Commenting on the funding of the Arts Council, Lucy Medlycott, Director of the Irish Street Arts, Circus and Spectacle Network, said,
“It’s heartbreaking…. Our sector engages enormous amounts of audiences. If you were to break it down per capita, it would be negligible, it’s hard to even quantify it…. It’s no point to put the numbers of the St. Patrick’s festival into the budget submission because it’s quarter of a million, nobody is going to believe that.. Numbers can only tell so much of a story.”
Living on borrowed time
Calling upon the Dept of Finance, Dept of Justice and Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, ISACS stress upon the need of an underwriter in the sector as it would lead to either operating without insurance or closing down of the sector.
With lack of competition in the Irish market and the subsequent withdrawal of Leisure Insure, ISACS has been reduced to living on borrowed time until they have access to an underwriter.
Many leisure and adventure tourism providers such as ISACS have faced difficulties in securing insurers owing to high premiums or insurers exiting the markets way before the outbreak of the pandemic.
In August 2019, the Irish Inflatable Hirers Federation (IIHF) had written to its members in April warning that Leisure Insure was looking to exit the Irish market; however, despite the warning, several providers of leisure facilities such as ISACS have had to face the catastrophe after Leisure Insure’s departure from the Irish market.
On the other hand, Leisure Insure noted Brexit for its departure and told the IIHF that for for every €100 it takes in in Ireland, it pays out between €140 and €160 in payouts.
In a detailed list of solutions to the insurance crisis, ISACS ask that An Garda Siochana be provided with adequate resources to pursue insurance fraud, a competitive practice between the between insurance brokers and underwriters be implemented by the Competition & Consumer Protection Commission, and a state insurance scheme for the Arts and Cultural sector be urgently developed via the Irish Public Bodies Mutual Insurance (IPB). More information on the same can be found here.
As several bodies of the Arts and Cultural sector have submitted their Pre-Budget Submissions for Budget 2021, thousands await the unveiling of the budget by Ministers Paschal Donohoe and Michael McGrath on Tuesday, October 13th.
In just a few weeks from now, the fate of the Arts and Culture Sector shall be revealed. What becomes of the plight and pleas of the Arts sector is only a matter of a few days and the decision making of several TDs.