Thomas Pringle TD

Thomas Pringle TD – We Need To Support The Arts

I have received hundreds of emails from constituents across County Donegal who are involved in the arts and the associated live events industry, pleading for assistance. More importantly, they are looking for a simple recognition from the Government that their sector has been decimated. However, the Minister should dispense with the usual bland lip service. From talking to performers, I know the hardships they face in making a living in the industry at the best of times. I am sure we have all seen the emails from the Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland, outlining the problems its members face. Nearly 20% of them say they are facing a decline in their mental health. Many have had to sell equipment or are in arrears with utility bills.

One of the major flaws with the Government is its over-reliance on reaction to questions and appeals from the Opposition, bombarding us with a plethora of generalised information on what it claims it is doing. Knee-jerk schemes for various things have been the order of the day. It does this without any apparent consideration as to whether these much-trumpeted schemes are properly funded to achieve the aims set. It never considers if these much-lauded schemes address the concerns or problems highlighted by the people they are meant to assist. Once the Government has created a press release, it has decided the aim from the point of view of the Government.

My message for the Minister is simple. To start with she should speak to the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection to ensure the Covid payments are restored to the previous levels. Based on the NPHET advice, we are nowhere near the end of the Covid crisis. It was a mean-spirited, naïve and premature to cut the payments. If she achieves that, she will have done some good.

She should look at schemes that will allow artists to produce content and put money in their pockets without reams of red tape because that is also a killer. This should be disbursed at a national, regional and local level but we must ensure the level of funding available is tangible and the innovation of the arts sector might just surprise us all then.