Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media | To ask the Minister for Tourism; Culture; Arts; Gaeltacht; Sport and Media the extent to which enterprises throughout the country have been seriously damaged during Covid-19 lockdowns to the extent of there being a difficulty with recovery with particular reference to the sectors covered by her Department
To ask the Minister for Tourism; Culture; Arts; Gaeltacht; Sport and Media the extent to which enterprises throughout the country have been seriously damaged during Covid-19 lockdowns to the extent of there being a difficulty with recovery with particular reference to the sectors covered by her Department; the means by which a particularly targeted assistance can be made available in such cases; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
With regard to the sectors covered by my Department, there is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented a huge challenge to the survival and recovery of many businesses and enterprises. In the tourism, arts, culture and sports sectors, in particular, many businesses and organisations were not able to operate, or could only operate in a limited way, for large parts of the past two years.
The support environment put in place by me and my colleagues in Government has meant that the vast majority of businesses have survived the pandemic and are now in a position to recover. Horizontal supports such as the EWSS and the CRSS have been instrumental in helping businesses across the economy to retain employees and cover costs. In the sectors I oversee, dedicated supports have complemented the horizontal measures and have reflected the particular challenges faced by these sectors.
The Government’s careful management of the pandemic over the past two years has meant that we were able to remove all restrictions on the economy and society earlier this year. Notwithstanding this, in recognition of the particular challenges faced by the sectors I oversee, a number of dedicated supports have been maintained or introduced this year to assist the recovery in those sectors worst affected, for example:
In Tourism, I secured an additional €50 million for the Tourism Business Continuity Schemes for 2022. These schemes are managed by Fáilte Ireland and will support businesses across the tourism sectors that need it most urgently, taking account of the Government funding that has already been received and the wider context of the horizontal supports provided by Government. To date under the 2022 Tourism Business Continuity Schemes, 367 payments have been made amounting to €21.7 million with a further 429 applications being evaluated. All schemes are expected to be completed by the end of June 2022.
A number of schemes have also been made available to support the recovery in the Arts and Culture sector this year.
- The €15m Live Performance Restart Grant Scheme (LPRGS) is a new grant for businesses engaged in staging live events in the arts and culture live performance sector. The scheme, which opened in March 2022, aims to de-risk the planning of events across spring and summer of 2022 and to assist with the costs of reopening.
- The Commercial Entertainment Capital Grant Scheme 2022 (CECGS 2022) has a funding allocation of €5 million to support the commercial arts sector. Grants will be paid to successful applicants as a contribution to the capital costs associated with reopening after closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The pilot Basic Income Scheme for the Arts has recently opened. This scheme will examine, over a 3 year period, the impact of a basic income on artists and creative arts workers. Payments of €325 per week will be made to 2,000 eligible artists and creative arts workers who will be selected at random and invited to take part.
- In December 2021, I launched the Live Performance Support Scheme 3 (LPSS3) to support events planned for December and January.
- An additional €5m of funding was allocated to local authorities for the 2022 Local Live Performance Support Scheme (LLPSS). The aim of the scheme is to help underpin the recovery of the live performance sector at a local level.
- As part of the €50m in supports for 2022 for the Live Entertainment sector, €4m was allocated to the Music and Entertainment Business Assistance Scheme (MEBAS) in 2022. These MEBAS 2022 grants will be paid for six months, January 2022 to June 2022, similar to the supports being offered under broader Live Entertainment LPSS supports.
In December 2021, almost €80m was allocated for the Sport sector under two separate support programmes. Of this, €73.6m funding is being provided under five separate streams to help sports organisations to recover and grow post-pandemic, support our grassroots networks of clubs and local sports partnerships, and ensure that people of all ages and abilities return to sport and physical activity. The timing of the schemes provides stability and certainty to the sports sector for 2022 as it emerges from Covid-19 restrictions. In addition, €5.3m was allocated to National Governing Bodies of Sport (NGBs) and Local Sports Partnerships (LSPs) for the provision of sports equipment including the roll out of defibrillators for clubs, sport kits for school children and state of the art equipment for high performance athletes. This significant investment built on the extensive support package of €88.5m provided in 2020 to address the COVID-19 challenges to the sport sector.
Insofar as Gaeltacht regions are concerned, my Department recently initiated three specific measures in further support of the Irish summer colleges sector, post COVID-19. Key measures include increased funding under the Departments’s Scéim na bhFoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge – payable to qualifying Gaeltacht householders who provide accommodation to students attending accredited Gaeltacht summer colleges, in addition to an increased allocation of 350 scholarships (over the 2019 allocation) to support students of DEIS post-primary schools in availing of Gaeltacht summer college courses. The overall additional funding of c. €800,000 being provided in relation to these measures inter alia represents the largest increase in investment in support of the Irish summer colleges sector in a single year since the scheme was first introduced in 1972.
In recognition of COVID-19 impacts on the Broadcasting sector, I secured additional funding for the Sound and Vision scheme which is managed by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. In order to continue to support the sector as we emerge from COVID-19, I recently announced a further, additional allocation of €10.5m in Sound and Vision funding for 2022. This includes €5m for climate change and climate action content production, which is being co-funded with the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications. This was in addition to the almost €7 million extra allocated to the scheme between 2020 and 2021 and on top of the statutory allocation of 7% of net TV licence fee receipts which normally supports Sound and Vision.
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