Sinn Féin Seanad spokesperson for the Arts Senator Fintan Warfield has called on Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan TD to completely redesign the Artists’ Social Welfare pilot after only 24 artists and writers have availed of the scheme to date.

Senator Warfield said:

“Artists, writers and performers should be supported to produce their work. While the artists’ social welfare pilot is very much a welcome initiative, the current pilot fails to recognise artists as self-employed and aligns itself closer to a jobseekers’ model of social welfare.

“In reality, there are few jobs for artists. There are none listed in the employment sections of our newspapers or online.

“So, under the current scheme, writers and visual artists can only receive Jobseekers Allowance for up to a year without being activated. The individual artist or writer therefore has only twelve months to complete their work, until being required to find alternative work. Such a time frame does not reflect the reality of working life for visual artists and writers.

“The scheme therefore needs to be restructured to be inclusive of artists, not by treating them as jobseekers as they work.

“Sinn Féin are concerned that the scheme will be reviewed after one year and due to the low response, the Government may choose to close the pilot without considering why the scheme has failed.

“The pilot must also be extended to performing artists. Why performers have been excluded from the scheme is a question for Government to answer.

“Through consultation with the cultural sector, and by exploring successful artist welfare schemes in Europe, Ireland can establish best practice and create a scheme that has the confidence of artists, and support those struggling to make ends meet.”