October 28, 2020

Wicklow TD paints picture of more supports for artists in the county

Local TD Stephen Donnelly is calling for more support to be given to Wicklow’s struggling artists.

He said not only were local artists struggling to access the Pandemic Unemployment Payment but they would need longer term help.

“The arts community is highly vulnerable to Covid-19,” Deputy Donnelly, who is also Fianna Fáil’s health spokesperson said.

“It’s precarious employment for many people working in the area, many have to be self-employed, they work very hard and in general there is not a huge amount of money to be made.

“As a result of the pandemic Wicklow’s artists were one of the first victims as you can’t have live events while theaters and filming all shut down almost immediately.

“My office has been contacted by people working in the Arts saying they struggled to access the unemployment payment

“The feedback I’ve been getting was there was a misunderstanding on behalf of the Department about who is entitled to the payments.

“This is absolutely understandable given the immense pressure the Department has been under dealing with huge volumes of cases.

“But for example one writer, who was refused access to the payment, told me they were asked by an official “Why don’t you write a book?”

“Those working in the arts really don’t have an opportunity to find alternative employment.

“At the Covid Committee I asked the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection officials to check that there was a clear understanding within their staff as to who is entitled to the payment.

“But I also asked if the payment will be extended to those working in the sector past its expected finish date at the end of August.

“The problem is a lot of people working in the Arts are facing a grim few months or maybe even a year ahead.

“People working on live events or even smaller events like weddings be they sound engineers or riggers or lighting face an uncertain future.

“The Pandemic Unemployment Payment needs to be extended to them because at the moment there is simply nothing they can do until their sector recovers once the restrictions have been relaxed”.


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