COVID19 (Coronavirus) Updates and Links to Official Supports and Information

VAI along with so many other people and organisations are making and reviewing decisions based on current government guidelines and will keep you updated on our website News section and with emails to our members. As we continue to look at the practical nature of working remotely, we have now in place a range of systems that are allowing us to continue most of our work.

We have outlined the official supports available during the crisis below. The Department of Culture Heritage & Gaeltacht have an Arts Unit that VAI members, artists and people in the arts sector in general who have questions about the Government supports available to them, can email their question to artsunit@chg.gov.ie and include a telephone number. The Arts Unit will try to respond to them by email or phone as soon as possible.

“The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, and Minister for Health, Simon Harris, have issued strict guidelines for people to stay at home from midnight on 27 March 2020.

The main rule is to STAY AT HOME. You can only leave your home to:

  • Travel to or from work if you are providing an essential service
  • Shop for food. You can get the list of essential retail outlets from gov.ie.
  • Collect medical prescriptions and medical supplies and go to medical appointments
  • Carry out vital services like caring (including family carers)
  • Exercise briefly within 2 kilometres of your house. (You can bring children but must keep 2 metres away from others for social distancing)
  • Do farm work

You cannot arrange a gathering with anybody you do not live with.

Everyone who can work from home must work from home. This includes essential workers and workers in essential government, utilities or other functions. You can only travel to work if you are providing an essential service.” Citizens Information Service

VAI is in full compliance and all staff are now working remotely. The phonelines for our Dublin and Belfast offices are redirected to a central number 01 6729488, where Shelly will be able to take calls, and if another member of staff is required, they will get back to you either by phone, by email, or schedule an online Help Desk using ZOOM or Skype.

VAI advocacy, help desk, and support services are all still in place. You can now access these online as well as through the usual channels of email and telephone.

Our in-person Lifelong Learning events are currently postponed, but we are offering events online. These include a weekly Visual Artists Café event to keep in touch with fellow artists, hear about events, and hear from a variety of members of the visual arts sector. We are also delivering a number of Webinars on topics from our Lifelong Learning programme. For the duration of the imposed isolation, we are offering these free for our members. We are digging into some reserves to do this, and will be looking at the rest of the year’s planning and delivery to ensure that we minimise the impact on the work that will take place over the rest of the year.  Some tough decisions are being made, but these are all clearly focused on one thing… bringing support to visual artists. We want to thank each and every one for the continued support that allows us make this happen.

All online events are free to VAI Members with a small fee for non members. See a full list of upcoming Online Events including Helps Desks and Webinars on Writing About Your Work, Digital Marketing, How to Apply for Funding and more: BOOK HERE

We are re-iterating the advice given during this crisis to depend on official sources for your information. Both Arts Councils are providing regular updates and their phone lines are still active should you have any questions or require clarifications from their teams.

The Government websites also have the most up to date information, but here is a brief summary of supports available to Artists and Organisations.


Official Supports Available during the COVID-19 Crisis

  1. Income Support Schemes
  2. Sector-specific information and advice
  3. Mobility/travel related information
  4. Primary References and Go to places for information

 


1. Income Support Schemes

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment
COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment is a new social welfare payment for employees and self-employed people (including artists) who have lost their income during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

For full information on this Scheme visit Gov.ie or Citizen’s Information.

COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment Main Points:

  • Both self-employed people and employees can apply if their income has been reduced
  • Single page application form
  • It is a weekly payment of €350. It is paid every Tuesday into a bank account in the State
  • It is paid until this current emergency passes (Originally it was to be paid for up to 6 weeks.)
  • Apply online or by post

Illness Benefit
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or have been told to self-isolate by your GP, you should apply for Illness Benefit instead. The rules for Illness Benefit and Supplementary Welfare Allowance have been changed to help prevent the transmission of coronavirus. The changes mean that if you are diagnosed with COVID-19 or are suspected of having COVID-19 and are medically required to self-isolate, you can get income support. The new enhanced Illness Benefit rate of €350 per week will be paid for a maximum of 2 weeks where a person is self-isolating and for a maximum of 10 weeks if a person has been diagnosed with COVID-19 (Coronavirus). If a person has been certified for less than 10 weeks, they will be paid for the duration of their certificate.

You can apply online for enhanced Illness Benefit and you can get more information about how to apply for Illness Benefit if you are affected by COVID-19.

If you are already getting a social welfare payment or you are on an employment programme such as Community Employment (CE) and Tús or a funded training and education programme, you do not need to apply for Illness Benefit. Your existing payment will continue to be paid if you are affected by COVID-19.

Other Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Schemes
If you were unemployed before the pandemic you may apply for regular DEASP schemes. If you are employed or self employed but your hours working have been reduced rather than stopped you may be eligible for other DEASP income support schemes. Some schemes listed below. We recommend that you contact Citizens Information directly for advice on what scheme would be best for your situation, call them on 0761 074000.

Some further details can be found in this Update on payments awarded for COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment and Enhanced Illness Benefit

Arts Council
The Arts Council has a number of Grants and Awards schemes that are currently open for applications. These can be found on the Arts Council Website: artscouncil.ie/available-funding/ Some deadlines have been extended, and some have been postponed, so please check with the Visual Arts Team on the status of the award before applying.

Arts Council COVID-19 Crisis Response Award – The Arts Council has introduced a special fund to enable Irish-based professional artists to provide access for the public to new and original art during the period of COVID-19 isolation. Deadline: 16 April, more here.

Other Income Opportunities
VAI continues to receive notices of Jobs and Opportunities that are open to individual artists. This includes open calls for exhibitions, residencies and funding opportunities We will update these on our website as a matter of urgency, and will continue to publish them via the eBulletin and Social Media.
Go to Jobs & Opportunities.

Citizens Information
We always recommend Citizens Information for advice that is not specific to our sector and in particular any advice needed on Social Welfare. You can reach them on 0761 074000 and there is extensive information on their website citizensinformation.ie

MABS – Money Advice and Budgeting Service
MABS is the State’s money advice service, guiding people through dealing with problem debt for more than twenty years.

MABS is free, confidential and independent. MABS Helpline is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm at 0761 07 2000, if you would like to call and discuss your debt issues. MABS will look at your debt as a whole to find the best solution for your situation. MABS can negotiate with creditors, advise on budgeting and on recording your spending.
Read more about MABS.

 


2. Sector-specific information and advice

Individual Artists

VAI members, artists and people in the arts sector in general who have questions about the Government supports available to them, can email their question to artsunit@chg.gov.ie and include a telephone number. The Arts Unit will try to respond to them by email or phone as soon as possible.

Arts Council
“The Arts Council will continue to operate fully throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Our priority is to support artists and arts organisations through this difficult time. Regular updates will be provided both here, by clicking the links below, and on our social media channels.”

“The Arts Council has said it will honour all existing funding commitments, and allow grantees to draw down 90 percent of their funding to allow them fulfil in turn their own business commitments, especially to artists.

“There will be no financial penalties for organisations/individuals that are unable to deliver key activities/key services arising from the impact of the COVID-19 virus,” the Arts Council said.“ Further details on this are available at artscouncil.ie/../Arts-Council

“To help smooth the cashflow challenges that organisations/individuals may experience, grantees are able to draw down up to 90 percent of their funding commitment, with immediate effect. Organisations are asked to prioritise commitments to artists as this is a particularly challenging time for them.”

If you have work that has been cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis, we recommend that you make contact with the venue or commissioning body and ask what they have in place regarding payments for work that you have either undertaken, have in progress, or were contracted to deliver.

Culture Ireland
Culture Ireland will honour the grants awarded for events impacted by restrictions owing to COVID-19 subject to conditions and is committed in principle to supporting rescheduled events.
cultureireland.ie/n…covid-19-update

Creative Europe
Consequences for Creative Europe programme and related activities listed on their website. To respond to these uncertainties, together with EACEA (Executive Agency) Creative Europe are applying the maximum flexibility they can in the implementation of the programme, within the limits of the applicable legal framework. Creative Europe are also in close contact with the national Creative Europe desks regarding the situation.

SIPTU
Individuals, Freelancers, Technicians etc. can also make contact with SIPTU, who have services and information for creative workers that are not specific to our sector.
Details can be found at siptu.ie/…covid-19-information/

Organisations

As we do not focus on organisations, this should not be seen as a complete.

Arts Council
“To help smooth the cashflow challenges that organisations/individuals may experience, grantees are able to draw down up to 90 percent of their funding commitment, with immediate effect. Organisations are asked to prioritise commitments to artists as this is a particularly challenging time for them.”
artscouncil.ie/../Arts-Council

Revenue
On 24 March 2020, the government announced an Income Support Scheme to assist employers in your position. This scheme will see the government pay up to 70% of your employee’s net, or take-home pay. It is capped at €410 for anyone earning up to €38,000 and at €350 for employees earning between €38,000 and €76,000. It is not however available for those earning more than €76,000. This payment, being a replacement for after-tax income is not itself taxable through payroll.

The Revenue Commissioners will administer this scheme and you will be required to make a self-declaration to them that you are experiencing significant economic disruption due to COVID-19, that you have an inability to pay normal wages as a result and that you will suffer a decline of at least 25% in your turnover. The Revenue Commissioners are to provide further information on how these conditions may be met and there will be severe penalties for any abuse of the scheme.
Information on eligibility and application here.

Charities Regulator
The Charities Regulator appreciates the significant challenges being faced by registered charities and, where possible, wishes to contribute to alleviating the pressures on charities at this difficult time. In recognition of the current public health crisis, the Board of the Charities Regulator has exercised its power to specify an alternative period for the filing of any annual report which was due to be prepared and submitted to the Charities Regulator on any date from 12th March 2020 to 29th June 2020 inclusive.
Contact here.

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation
Organisations that are established as businesses, even with non-profit status, may be eligible to apply for some of the supports offered by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation
dbei.gov.ie/…Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports…

 


3. Mobility/travel related information

The government has advised against all non-essential travel abroad to delay the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Flight, ferry and holiday cancellations have affected many travellers and are likely to continue.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is advising against all non-essential travel overseas until further notice. This includes Great Britain but does not apply to Northern Ireland. It also includes all cruise ship travel.

Your rights if you are stranded abroad:
You should register your contact details with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on their Citizens’ Registration site. They can then contact you and provide help if there is an unforeseen crisis or family emergency while you are overseas.

If you are not allowed to leave your current location because you are in a COVID-19 quarantined area, contact the Irish Embassy in the country in which you are located. These contact details are available on the DFAT website.


4. Primary References and Go to places for information

HSE on Coronavirus (COVID-19): hse.ie

Citizens Information: citizensinformation.ie/

Arts Council – artscouncil.ie

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection gov.ie

Threshold –  threshold.ie/covid-19/

Contact our Help Desk at 01 6729488 and info@visualartists.ie

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