Open Forum – Pay and conditions in the performing arts
9:10AM Oct 18, 2021
Amir Abu Alrob
Good morning everyone. You're very welcome to today's open forum, and a couple of housekeeping notices first, just to say as you'll just have heard we are recording the meeting, so it would be great if people could keep them use as much as possible. And also we have a live transcript on otter AI, which is available I'll post the link to how to get to that in the chat if you can't see that as well. But for now, I'm going to hand over to Anna.
Good morning, and it's good to see everybody on this call for what we hope is the first of many open forums in the coming year and hopefully some of those will actually be in real life once we get past this last hurdle of what happens after October 22, and consultants Heather Maitland has carried out our PayScale surveys for many years now, but the most recent one, the 2019 2021 will probably stand out as being recording, some of the most difficult conditions for artists and arts workers of many years. Heather's full report is available on the website, and she's also pre recorded a seven minute serve summary of the findings, which is also available to view on the website as well. But, over to you, Heather for the highlights are the headlines of the pay scale survey 2019 2020
I think the the key
issue is that the fault lines that we identified in the 2018 research have actually become worse in 2019 before even a pandemic struck. So although the economy grew by 5.6% and average earnings by an extraordinary 21% artists, pay didn't match that growth at all. We have some very small improvements in some aspects, but they are nowhere near match the growth elsewhere in the economy and in fact, again, we are just as bad as the hospitality sector in terms of pain and pain conditions and the impact of the pandemic. So, we've still got a quarter of artists almost earning loads and the minimum wage. We've still got issues around precarious work where, you know, two thirds pretty much of jobs in the sector are precarious and 78% of artists can't plan their income. And really it's a systemic issue. It's about the way that the, the sector is structured, putting pressure on costs, and the people who end up with the most pressure, are the artists, And, unfortunately, it looks as though perhaps in 2022 the pressure will be even greater. And I think that the forum's concerned that artists will be forced to accept even lower pay just in order to work. So, it's so kind of heartfelt. Clearly, the video that if we're not careful we are actually going to lose our, our creative people know at the heart of culture.
That's, that's my summary basically.
Thank you, Heather. We just before we go to the end, we're very appreciative of Sharon berry from the department to joining us on the call this morning, and Sharon is going to talk briefly about the basic income pilot initiative which will be rolled out from January, and it's a very welcome initiative, And we have to at this point pay tribute to all of those people who worked so hard, particularly the NCFA committee to working with the department to achieve and to get this initiative in place. And but before we go to that we've just to say that while Sharon and her team at the department, they're also awaiting the outcome of a Cabinet meeting I think maybe tomorrow Sharon, just about what happens after the 22nd of October, we will issue a bulletin as soon as that cabinet meeting comes to the conclusion, but just to put aside the pre and post October 22 questions for this morning, and we'll be will be will answer those as fully as we can, once Sharon and the team have the information. But back to the very important initiative of basic income. And thank you, Sharon for joining us this morning.
Thanks, Anna, look I suppose just under 20 seconds, I mean I wish I had a little bit more clarity because appreciate, we'd all like to know exactly what's happening what we're waiting on I mean Neff is there to to provide their advice to Cabinet today and then there'll be a meeting tomorrow morning so we would hope to have some clarity around this, as soon as possible as soon as we get anything. And certainly less and and and other stakeholders know so that they can get the message out there but at the moment we don't have, have any clarity on that right now. I suppose just in terms of the basic income and again, you know, there's not a huge amount of detail available just because we're still in the policy development stage but certainly today's forum is very useful for us in terms of it's very timely, you know, in terms of that policy development around the basic income and so we'd be very interested to hear the discussions around paying conditions this morning, because obviously, a basic income for artists is will be a key intervention in this area so we're we're really delighted that the minister managed to secure 25 million in funding for the basic income pilot for next year. I know I've seen some commentary around that in terms of, you know that it might be. I think there was was concern about how much it would be for and for how long now I think that 25 million really isn't a full year cost because, really, by the time we get it open for applications and I suppose the eligibility criteria have to be worked out on and terming who's going to be in there that will all take a little bit of time so while we'd expect to be opening for applications, possibly would be aiming towards the end of January, it might be April before payment starts so in that way it's the 25 million wouldn't be considered a full year costs, that's probably closer to, you know, a nine month cost, but it is major policy intervention and, again, very much grounded in ongoing dialogue with the sector. And as Anna says with the NCFA and other stakeholders who have come in to talk to the department, and it has been very useful I think this forum this morning would be very helpful. We will try and provide more details in the coming weeks now that we kind of know what it is that we're dealing with, were kind of tooling up to look at application forms and eligibility and one of the key issues over the next, I think during November we will have a stakeholder forum so we will be able to provide an opportunity for people to feed in when we have more specifics to offer people so you know again throughout and others will send out an invitation so people will know when that's happening, but I'm probably mid to ends November we'll, we'll have a stakeholder forum. And I think I suppose most people here would know that sort of genesis of the basic income guarantee pilots, was a key recommendation of the arts and cultural recovery Task Force, and that task force in the report life worth living may 10 different recommendations and that was, as a rule primary one, but the minister has an oversight group working with over the last, I suppose we've met eight or nine times at this stage, and they were looking at all 10 of those recommendations, they're very much focused on delivery of the basic income piles, so we would hope to have a lot more details in the coming weeks but at present we are planning to open the applications in early 2022. But again, as I said it could be closer to April before payments start because actually the large piece of work there would be, not from people applying but actually going through the eligibility and depending on how many apply, you know, filtering it down, I think we're not, again, it's all on the Earth, Moon, we would expect, approximately 2000 people to be able to participate in the pilot scheme, and we will hope in November as part of the stakeholder forum to provide a little bit more detail at that point, but I think the minister's objective is for to be very close to the model that was proposed in the life worth living report, and for the level of support to be very close to what was proposed there as well. But again, you know, we'd be interested to hear what happens to this morning at this forum and, you know, we're happy to take questions. Although, there probably isn't a huge amount of detail at the moment. And as we just work out the details.
That's great, and thanks so much, Sharon, It's great to get an overview of the basic income scheme for artists and was now we're actually going to move into the open forum part of today's session. We did an open colonnade for independent artists and arts organizations to respond to the pay scales findings, and to discuss the actions that you think are needed to change artists and arts workers paying conditions in the sector for the better. And so contributions will be done alphabetically to make as democratic as possible, and we'll let you know privately in the chat, when your turn is coming up. But to get started. We will now hear from theatre maker, Amir Abu al Rob So Amir if you could unmute yourself there please, that'd be great.
Morning everyone. So I'm not going to make too much, a conversation around that goes, it's clear as it is, When it comes to artists payments. Payment condition. So one of my requested that would be for our organization mostly is when I'm voicing you tell me when you're going to pay. Because sometimes it can take two weeks, it can take three weeks, it can take two months, good to know and there is, there was one thing like, people will ask you to input into invoice them for your work. But when it comes to the payments for you. You wouldn't hear anything, anything from them. There was a oh it's gonna be paid a stop it's gonna be paid. Very soon, but this very soon it's an open concept so if we can just make it more exercise when I'm going to be bathed so that's for the artists especially for freelancers to learn, how is the next period for them, it cannot be because some, some really some artists that they meant they get from their gigs. From there are events they do from their work is really kind of a base for their life. Because as artists, the treatments we get even from the government, it's still kind of different, we still trying to build out an understanding in the winter or in digital, to kind of support us as art, because we all know we can't make enough money from our art to survive the year as its. And the other thing that I want to say in Palestine, which is, you know, most of you might know about Palestine but what I always loved back home. When I used to work as an artist, the first minute I booked my label on the stage, I would have brides, to have half of my money so I wouldn't have cash to go out of coffees, but sometime we would be on stage and saying oh my god I don't have any cash so I have to do the work to make money, and then you go out you don't know how to do it, because it's not easy, so. And the other thing also. I requested from funders. So, I have been the recipient of the EIC awards, with the Create Ireland, and to be honest with you, they were really great about the payments because as soon as the invoice it's going to take like three days a week maximum to get paid for my money so it was a great treatment but also the other side of it, the time we invest as artists to write our applications. It's a lot it's a lot of time that we spend behind the computer, and finding the crew and discussing with the crew and then putting on the whole application together, just one my request is if someone gets accepted for a funds so for the art. Art Council or any organization to take in cancer, the time that every artist spends to repair that obligation. So when it's done. Just an aside, a bit of budget say okay thank you for putting all this time into application your application success. This is a bit of budget for you, you know, being the, the time that I spent to write the application, and then the font as itself. So, that will make things totally different, in my opinion. And yeah, that's really what I wanted to touch there is a need before I start, and baby foster after I finish, and also to get paid for my time that I spent writing those applications and investing in my words so that's all I want to really to talk about for the payments edition. And thank you so much for your time listening to this.
That's great Amir thank you so much. And we're actually just going to break out of our alphabetical running order momentarily, and to hear from Jerry O'Brien president of equity because he has to leave early, and so I'll hand over now to Jerry. Thank you.
Thank you very much. I represent the Working Actor, a bit like a mirror, but I go back, my first paycheck was in 1970 So I've seen the evolution of the arts through various iterations of governance report. I can you hear me. You can you just look very concerned on the screen there. So I've seen it grow from, from very didn't exist to where it exists today. And one of the problems that I would have as president of equity is seeing how even, you know, when we go into negotiations, it's always an effort to try and negotiate the minimum down again. The continuity that exists in, in other jurisdictions that I've watched is a continuity so you never go back on your minimums, would you build a little bit more on all the time so you know exactly what an actor's income should be for theater etc does. I mean, there was a period on me how to close shop so we used to negotiate with the theater management organization, but everything has become slightly blurred now so you can find the actor is the creator and then has to try and budget to pay other actors, and you know actors will support each other. So you have a, if you like a benign erosion in order to get the creative product on stage, a benign erosion of what would be basic minimum standard payments, because we have projects that we want to do as a union my job. The job of the Union, and the executive and, and as we're affiliated to SIPTU is to create a framework and a continuity, where, when there is government investment in a sector that all of the legislation that surrounds the protection of the people who work in that area should be applied. And unfortunately, now that becomes very complex because we now go into other areas of legislation within the theater, not just say a working time act or an agreed minimum, we now have to bring in the Copyright Act and we had to bring in all the EU directives and copyright, to, to manage to extract the best possible situation for the artists whose work is creating this, There's a danger also a times of creating an awesome dam which I don't want to happen because particularly within theater. And within the live sector, it is a community effort. There's a huge effort between all parties and I said, at a meeting, a number of years ago, and the project about with theater form I think at the time, when I said, equity has a unique position because we do not represent all of the bodies, but we represent the specific needs of the performer within the structure of payment, and their terms and conditions, so there will be times when we are absolute staunch allies and I could not have agreed more with everything that Heather said at the opening of this meeting, we will be staunch allies in trying to create further support investment to look at every opportunity to create inward investment into our area, but then there are times when we're going to have to sit opposite some of the members of our industry and say well we've got to have a robust negotiation now about how do we make sure that what's going in at the top is actually going to reach the individuals on the stage as well. And that can become quite an emotive and fractious conversation at times, which I hope if it's had, we'll clear the air so that we can get to a point where we, we create better minimums. I don't know when there was a last increase in equity minimum and theater, I can't remember I do remember some momentous AGM, where we actually doubled the minimum, and people said oh god theater companies will go out of existence, they didn't. They adapted to that. So how do we get to a point where the artist is valued not just for the work that they do, but for the experience they bring for all of the other aspects that an actor brings to appearing on the stage. And how do you quantify that, how do you value it how do you put a fiscal value on it. Because the truth validation at times is just being able to make a living. That's got to be the validation of our work. I don't know, an actor nowadays who could actually afford to pull together to deposit to buy a house. And yet when I started out actors were able to do that, because their income was comparable to the industrial wage a little bit below. Not as far below as it is now.
So, the area that I occupy is a very difficult one because when the actor becomes dissatisfied, they're going to blame equity, it's all equities fault, but it is it. I mean, We have to look at fair management, or creating situations we have to look for government or creating situations because it is not all the fault of the Union, it is not all the fault of management and it is not all the fault of government. So how do we get to a point where we, we forget these famous phrases that I've grown up with, is, we have a What's your real job. This is my real job, doing what I do is my real job. Yeah, but you know you're only there for four hours, or an hour a night, or you know a couple of hours at night. Yeah but, you know, not only do I rehearse for three weeks from 10 to five o'clock, But outside of the rehearsals I'm learning lines, I'm doing this I'm trying to create I do other stuff. And I have to subsidize that job with my other jobs from voiceover from film from television. There was a time when an actor would get, you know, two television jobs in a year and they say that's great, that's subsidize my career now for the rest of the year I can do theater. So we're all actors have always actually been the invisible subsidy of the creative, you know that the live creative sector, cultural sector so that's one of the areas that I think we're going to have to look at so you know Heather and they will be on the same page. And with regard to what do we do about minimums. The thing is, how do we do it. How do we get there, and how do we do it collectively. And that's really all I have to say I do thank you for allowing me to speak early and out of, out of sync, as a way with everybody else, but I am working as an actor so I have to nibble off into a job to pay for pay for my presidency so thank you very much.
I'm Rena Bryson, and I wrote an Eve as I called Theatre Company here in Galway and I'm also a freelance theatre maker and drama teacher, and I just wanted to talk a bit from the perspective of emerging artists or emerging theatre companies, because I feel that pay and conditions can be two completely separate things when it comes to mid level or fully developed artists, and emerging artists, and we're one of the very few industries where being an emerging artist means that you have a four year degree and a master's degree in your field, and you're still searching. And I don't think that qualifications or experience come into it as much as it should. And I wanted to talk a little bit from a company's perspective first and then I'm going to from the artists perspective because I thought. So when we set up our company, four years ago it was because we moved to go away because we had heard it was this fantastic cultural place we had both just finished four year degrees in performing arts with a major in acting, but then when we got here we realized there were no auditions, and there were no calls for other jobs in the arts, either. So we decided to set up a company with the ethos that we would whenever possible, hold open calls for auditions, on for other roles, which is something that I'm just not seeing enough, frankly. So we ended up applying for funding and applying for funding but because we have no big names on our register because it is all emerging artists, we're not actually the best people to facilitate that. So it wasn't until three years in that we got funding to pay artists correctly. And we always pay travel expenses other expenses completely out of our own pocket. And at this time as well because of, well frankly the ajust a bit classes system in Ireland with social welfare when you're under the age of 25 I think I was only able to get 100 Euro, a week, and I think the reason for this is the assumption that people over 18, but under 25 have parents that are financially capable of supporting them, which is a very classist view. But yeah on 100 Euro a week, I was putting all of the money into the company because I wasn't able to get any support to start a company for emerging artists, and I also wasn't able to get any work with pre existing companies because there weren't any open auditions. And so from my perspective, now I'm able to get money to pay the artists properly, but it's kind of a catch 22 You can't get money from the Arts Council or other funding bodies, if you don't have that experience, but you can't pay get paid to gain that experience. So in other words within this industry, you have to work for free, or in our case, for the first three years paying our artists profit share of their expenses, but again that came directly out of our pockets, all of those expenses. Add often to be honest, me and Hazel just didn't take a cost because we were going oh this is the profit share of this isn't enough, so we'll just take out our own costs and pay these people that have generously given us their time, and I'm not bringing this up to be like, Oh, we're so great we did that I'm bringing it up because I don't think that it's just us that are doing this, I think it's a problem that a lot of emerging Irish theatre companies are doing this, and a solution that I think would be really really great for this issue is for more advanced more established companies to have a policy where it doesn't have to be for all of the roles, not even for every show, but to have a policy where every once in a while they have to hold an open audition, or they have to put up an advertisement for a lighting tech or for a director or for a dramaturg that it's not just the companies that are already getting funding, hiring people who are already going to get funding, x I think that that is the best way in for an emerging artist with the system the way that it is, is getting in the door with a company that's already financially stable. Yeah, and I think that that's all that I have to say just thank you so much for hosting this and for giving me the opportunity to express bash. Thank you.
Thanks Reena. My name is Dan Collie, and I'm an independent theatre maker, mostly a director and collaborative writer. I'd like to talk a bit about the implications of of the basic income that we heard about at the beginning, I think it is a proper game changer. To the circumstances that that had there has been measuring and telling us about. I also would encourage any fellow artists in particular to read the Arts Council's pay the artists policy. And I think, among the effects that it's had is in raising personally my expectations of my negotiating of what fee I should be demanding of people who hire me, but also as somebody who, Who produces work at what it is I should be putting in the budget for artists that, that the patriarch scheme has been raising the expectations there, and that's where it starts really is, is raising those expectations. The, the basic income pilot has a huge potential to transform the professional expectations of arts workers to raise our standard of living to buy time to make professional and personal choices that we might not otherwise make to do research to independently develop our practice to write funding applications to go on holidays to get mortgages to get insurance to invest in pensions to share the aspirations and expectations of working people everywhere. I think there's plenty of work to do in terms of engaging and shaping this pilot. I want to see how it interacts with other welfare payments particularly disability payments. I want to see that it doesn't, that we don't inadvertently become inflexible when it comes to our PA ye work or the fact that many people who are artists have to become also directors of companies, in order to meet our own employer obligations as well as to acknowledge the kind of full spectrum of what it is that we do and to allow for that flexibility. I mean, I also think that it's very important that we don't solidify arrangements for art workers who for whatever reasons cannot work and will have no way of meeting the basic basic living standards, as in getting the living wage. The proposed basic income, which I know hasn't been confirmed yet but if we go with what what we've heard already, is better than the dole but it's still less than the living wage. We shouldn't I think in our enthusiasm for increased living standards for working artists endorse a kind of a long term policy of substandard living artists living, working conditions, living conditions for artists who cannot work. So I welcome forums like this to hash it out, and to find our voices at Unity. Now I'm also a member of Praxis the Artists Union although I'm here speaking in a personal capacity. It represents artists from all disciplines, not just theater. We have a working group on basic incomes and I'd encourage anybody here is interested to join and be part of that movement in shaping this pilot. And we also campaign that's directed at the Arts Council to get artists important designing the application process. We're also in talks with a number of larger trade unions to realize our potential power through an association or a merger so if you are interested in any of that, or if you just want to have a vote on which a union we join. Please do join us. And while I think we should welcome the news of this pilot, and how it might then apply to all artists, I think we need to be wary of the political pitfalls that might land us in the future. I'm thinking, I suppose, of the tax free allowance for artists, and we think about how that lands in the public imagination. How many times have we heard Angela Dorgan on the radio be asked about how artists don't pay tax and she then has to say, well in fact that applies to relatively few artists, many artists do in fact most artists do in fact pay their tax, yet in the public imagination. Artists don't pay tax that's still there regardless of the fact of the matter. We need to be wary that we don't get into this with the basic income. I'd like to sort of like remind us that it started out as a Green Party initiative and inclusion for the program and government as a universal basic income pot. The end goal of which was to test this out for a new universal entitlement, not means tested or sector or employment specific, a new entitlement, like education or child benefit. We managed to as a community and the people involved managed to get this as a sort of a sector specific pilot so it could be tried out on this group, it makes sense with the original gig economy, the first, or carry ash were important to society but we're mostly not valued in the marketplace. However, what I will say is that the pilot itself won't really tell the launches of that pilot, anything about how a universal basic income will work. Whoever is the first country to try it can pilot the model, highlight and model at all they want but they won't really know what the effect of the universal income will have on the labor market until somebody actually does it. Personally, I'm excited about it. But the pragmatist in me doubt very much that Ireland will be the first jurisdiction to make that leap. So I'm thinking about what I think the best possible likely outcome of this pilot is going to be how the basic income that we might get out of this pilot may not be universal, how then should it be targeted. And as a campaigning sector, we've always made the case for the specialists, and the peculiarity of our working life. I think our working life, is less and less peculiar. As more and more people join us in the gig economy. And I think the case for the specialist of our sector, begins to ring a little bit hollow, when we're no longer campaigning for more money for the Department of arts, but rather campaigning for a new targeted entitlement from the Department of Social protection that context changes the message, regardless of the reality of how it works, gonna remind us about how it works in terms of people's imagination in the public imagination with the tax free status. In that context, I don't want to be saying that the arts are special. I don't want to be saying that to the avatar workers or the fruit pickers, or the locum doctor or the part time nurse or the chefs, or the taxi drivers or the graphic designers that the arts are special. I think we should be preparing ourselves for government policy that will not move towards the universal. We should be a constructive part of the conversation about targeting that we should stand with the rest of the precarious workers, that we should be part of a conversation that's about means testing and about tapering the payments out as other income increases for an individual. I think we should be making the case that this, that, that this basic income is needed, not because of what we do. But because of how we do it. And because of how we do it, we're joined by a lot more people than that. And I think, and this is the challenging, this is the challenge I'm putting to us as we begin this as a sector. I think that even if we are offered it as a sector specific basic income, to the exclusion of other kinds of workers, I think that we should turn it down.
That's what I have to say today. Hi everybody, my name is Sheena Creevy, I am the Chief Executive Officer of dance Ireland, and that's quite a speech to follow thank you for that Dan and I just want to start by acknowledging my position as an employee of an organization, and the responsibility that comes with that, and to acknowledge that I am one of few. So I have a few things written down from the perspective of dance island but I am acknowledging that this is one perspective and I'm looking forward to hearing from artists later on in this forum, to hear their voice directly. So the first thing I wanted to talk about was feasibility precarious employment, as illustrated in the theater form reports over the past few years has become the norm. Early career artists are expected to prepare themselves for an uncertain world ahead. We still hear of organizations, asking for dancers to work for free for experience. This is not acceptable. We also hear of artists agreeing to take on work for free for experience. And unless this is a truly educational activity with a clear outcome that aligns with your professional development goals, please don't do it, ask for what you deserve, precarious employment has unfortunately become the norm, artists have adapted to this, and the funding and social support systems have adapted to this as the norm. Also, much as I welcome the pilot basic income for artists skin spur the systemic change is still needed. The first question we often ask an artist attending an advisory session with Dan Saarland is how much of this grant is paying you for your planning your networking, your development, how much have you assigned in your budget to plan for the next stage of this project. How can you know the feasibility of a project that research and development phase, if you are not investing in the less next step. We are seeing this at all stages of artists careers. The focus is on doing not living early next year downside will commence feasibility research on developing a rate card for people working in dance in a hope to raise standards for, and the expectations of artists. Inclusion is another issue we need to raise as well. Dance Ireland is currently undertaking a sector review through the downs count survey. And whilst analysis and reported reporting are yet to be completed. What we are seeing in initial survey responses, very briefly, is that the dance community is extremely highly educated, echoing Rinas points, a high proportion of artists have caring responsibilities. This is quite often not taken into consideration in many contracts. Not all have easy access to an appropriate workspace. And many rely on other income to support their work in dance, much of this is also reflected in the theater, theater form report. Also, we know that
those who can maintain career in dance consider themselves lucky, and work hard to create opportunities for others. However, there are still many who are excluded. And organizations like us, and regularly funded companies need to continue to question our own practices and proactively make space for the people and voices we don't hear enough of from in our work, and practices. There are many barriers to achieving a sustainable career in dance in the arts and dance Ireland and Theatre and Dance Northern Ireland will actually be hosting a public event on the Friday the fifth of November at 12pm to share our experiences and initial findings from two major all Ireland research projects which are dance conversations and dance counts, which is the survey I mentioned before, dance, conversations is a mixed methods dance film and discussion based research project undertaken with six dance artists from both sides of the border, supported by the Department of Tourism culture arts coats of sports and media under the cooperation with Northern Ireland's funding scheme. I'm obliged to acknowledge that dance characters mentioned as an online survey of living and working conditions for those working in with, and for dance, led by dance Ireland, we recognize that those working in dance, are not just the performers and the choreographers there the producers, the technicians, the teachers, the community artists, everybody is a far reaching art form and there are many impacted by the conditions that that, that are placed upon working and working artists and working companies. So I look forward to welcoming people to that event and to continuing this conversations, and thank you so much for this opportunity to share that.
Thanks, really well done. My name is Hugh Farley, and I'm the director of the Writers Guild of Ireland we represent writers in most of the performance of arts, theater, film, television, radio, and animation, and gaming to a much lesser degree. And I would echo the contributions that previous con tributaries have made especially Jerry O'Brien, in equity in recognizing that in real terms, there's been this crazy divorce in, in the decline of the value of the artist, be they writers, I'm talking about performative artists now, particularly because it's my areas of interest, I suppose, directors, writers and actors and composers, it has to be said their work is being priced down price down downward pressure all the time. And for many of these are artists, part of the problem is that they are classed as self employed, and as such are governed under the competition, competition, legislation, which was recently amended in I think 2016, which prevents collective bargaining, and that might be a desirable outcome for self employed people with very high incomes but artists, as I think we have established our people have extremely low and sporadic incomes, and ironically the very laws that were there to instill competition, and to guarantee fairness in fact legislative unfairness. They prevent writers from sharing information about the rates that they may acquire and that enable essentially prevents them from negotiating, effectively, because in many cases, in the case of film and television as, for example, essentially, the rates that are quoted by the producer are the rates, provided the range of negotiation that the, the, The writer as an artist negotiates in, even though the value of what they're doing might be greater. So one of the, I did want to have a bit of good news. And here's my piece of good news and that is that some of you may be aware that the European Commission is looking at people in our situation, which is to say, artists who are self employed, and are on low income, and they're looking to basically change the regulations European regulations in respect of competition law expressly to make it possible for, for us to collectively bargain in the future, and we're informed by our European Confederation the Federation of screenwriters in Europe who advocate on our behalf. There's a very very good chance that these regulations will be changed in 2023. And I think that is one tiny chink in the wall, the ability to collectively bargain, and to share information is is key to achieving some kind of fairness and part of fairness is raising the amount of salary that are artist should be entitled to and and the problem is that we start from this very low structural basis, whether it's in in theater or in film, television and so forth. There is already very very low rates which are wildly disproportionate to the kind of fees and salaries that may be earned by other people in other creative forms, both are accorded a certain status in society as of being more commercially relevant. For example, web design companies or graphic designers or architects, there's a creative sphere for you that commands fees which are
very high and good luck to them, but compared to performing artists and to writers and other artists who are featured here today. It seems like a faraway place, and I think that, to echo something that has been said by by Jerry and and others. One of the first steps is to do more of what we are doing today to share information across, across the arts spectrum, to be frank about what the challenges that face artists are today, and to engage in a discussion with all of the stakeholders in a constructive way to model while World Class excellence looks like. So to take Jerry's point about how frost negotiations can be with theatre companies and other individuals, when they're predicated on purely pay. It's very hard to have a conversation, which does not become somewhat acrimonious and about where you set that scale of pay. And when you start to model and say well how do you build a world class theatre industry, how do you ensure that that actors as artists, set designers as artists can afford to live and work and do their best work. And I would echo also some of the comments that were made by Renner, in terms of running a theatre company being realistic about what the challenges, actually are and trying to derive something which is practical and positive. And is it has a clear focus. I do worry about some of the supports that are offered by different arts organization to support artists that they are searching for writers, they tend to be very short term in their nature, and certainly our perspective in the Writers Guild is we're looking for long term change, We're looking for to address the tough and large issues while recognizing that there are immediate cases of hardship and we want artists to be supported as well as possible but we do have to look to the long term, the big picture. And that's a picture which is not just about pay but it's about the very structure of how arts funding happens, and, and as I think somebody else mentioned, I think it was Jerry again, does the money that goes into a theatre company or a production company in film and television, how much of that actually trickles down to the artists in a meaningful way. And does that have a representation to the value that is absolutely core to the experience, you know, it is a tough gig being a producer, let us acknowledge that it's very easy to demonize producers and say they're this and they're that they do take a lot of risks too but, but their work is contingent on the creativity of the very artists that are poorly paid. They're they're contingent on the great work of theater director is of great actors, and of the writers who create the fundamental work, and I think initiatives which recognize the bigger picture and and look to the long term, are what I would hope for the future. Thank you very much.
Hi, I'm Maria Solon, and I'm the artistic director of Galway based Theatre Company, no ropes. My background is in acting. From my experience and actor with a physical disability, never gets cast in the professional role in Ireland on that to create work themselves. I decided that directing will be my key to work in professional rotation. I can't say for sure, but having a walking frame also prevented me from getting paid production crew work. I had seen people that volunteered alongside me without experience getting hired to do next production again now, how difficult it is to implement access needs, wants to production and signed up high knowledge of either. I prioritized no ropes needs over my personal needs to majority at a time, pretty COVID. The only time I implemented my access needs into a budget first when I applied for a GIS connect scheme. It was a requirement. No real status production, which I wrote, and will perform Luke talks about this but he says, there's not been a money being more open about my needs, my most recent funding applications. Personal Access costs for Luke are 4354 euros 7% of the overall budget. That covers Tech's personal transport my PA for when Lucas performed in Dublin and maintenance of walking through costly bullfighters in order for Luke to be staged, however, is currently difficult to highlight how vital these costs are to the production funding applications, locally and nationally. We are not asked if you have any additional needs. There is no Pacific line budget in place practice is often pushed under the title, other, which creates a fear that that access costs will get hidden under other requirements. The fact that access is not a visible component of the funding application and open calls raises a lot of questions. Should I know my health and safety. In order for the show to go on. If I employ another artist arts worker with a disability. Shall I put their access needs before mine. If there's no funding should I use my actual speak pay for my access needs. Can I apply for this, even though there is no mention of access sports. And finally, the sector caribou me. I firmly believe that access should be as much of a budget requirement as it is BS or equivalent purchaser, having access becoming the norm will create a tidal wave of change within the sector, not only with a bitten benefit. Artists like me, not just have caring responsibilities. I parents or carers, boom, will enrich the sector. We have lost a lot of talent over the years because additional needs work cater for her may create a legacy for artists and arson workers with additional needs by implementing access into your future budgets, open calls, or encourage your peers to follow suit. Every small step counts.
Marina, thank you very much for those remarks. I think it's really important additional set of perspectives on what we've had so far. My name is Declan Gorman. I like the previous speakers I'd like to thank theatre forum for this opportunity to say a few words. I want to speak really from the perspective of the self employed freelance maker. You know, maybe at the Octonal end of a career, I would say. So I'm in my 60s it was about two years ago that I actually stopped describing myself as an emerging artist, and it suddenly came to me I can't really do that anymore so these things kind of sort of arrive and you quite suddenly. By this, I am like, by the number of the people in Heathers surveyed who defines not as a specialist in one field but who works in several and often in different phases of the same project I might define in, you know as different sort of roles. So I am, and have been over a fairly lengthy career of 35 years, writer, director, performer, I defined primarily as a public artist or community artist. I'm also an educator, and one thing I'd like to clarify is that they don't see teaching our are working in the education world as extraneous to my practice. You know, because I think sometimes that has been defined as being something else that you have to do in order to support your life as an artist. So again just just for transparency, I'd like to say that, you know, I think of my practice as holistic. I'm a theatre worker I'm a theatre maker and being an educator and facilitator and so on is part of who I am and I know that that is just my own personal definition for this perhaps helpful to have clarified that. When I go on to make a couple of points from, I entered the profession in 1985, right up until 2010 I was almost constantly in employment, I was the artistic director of a company that I founded for 13 years. So I tended to create situations within which I was then paid. I think only one year in my entire career did I actually earn more than the 40,000 this magical figure of 40,000 which is actually plopped out as being the average wage for all employment in Ireland. So again, that's just a little piece of context and I consider myself to be comparatively successful and a very very happy artist, but I'm very lucky in that, you know, consider a figure less than that, to be sufficient. But when I became freelance in 2010 for a variety of reasons aren't to do with the shrinking of the economy back then. It was an immense shock to find myself in a freelance world, what I had absolutely no training for that. When I was already around 50 years of age. And the first couple of years I have to say were very very stressful. I began to make sense of it all, eventually I created and toured my own one man shows, I created a quite a successful two hander, I became an employer again but as a solo self employed person I employed a couple of actors, and a lighting designer. It was a matter of absolute high principle for me that I would not put that show on the road until such time as I had raised sufficient funding in dribs and drabs to make sure that they were paid more than the equity minimum wage or the or the recommended fee for the lighting designer, but that show worked on the basis that I did a huge amount of extra work on it myself, whereas in the past, the director of a company I might have employed, additional people in areas such as sound design and so on and so forth. I also made myself available for the odd freelance gig and my specialists, the lesser community artists but I find that very unsatisfactory and I found that I was doing precisely that thing that Heather's report refers to, which was you know, operating for a flat fee and finding myself working ridiculous hours and having under charged for much of the first five years of those 11 I was on the dole, and I find myself in 2016, as opposed to the relatively high standing in this field, in the most undignified position you could imagine, when I was invited to join job path which is a scheme to encourage people who are long term on the dole to go back to work. And I was fortunate to get out of that on dignified and very very damaging program in my view. By becoming aware, I quite accidentally have the Back to Work enterprise scheme back to work in
class when I was able to sign up for that it entitles me to two years on broken social welfare payments, during which time I was allowed. First I was assigned a mentor to help me to kind of improve my business practice as a self employed person, but it was also entitled for the first two years to continue to receive the equivalent of unemployment payment, so it was a kind of a version it was a short term low income version of how basic income might look and it worked very very well, and so I wanted to just say that, that it was actually a really good scheme was a good scheme because I had the caution of that income for the two years when I was no refocusing on really what kind of freelance person was I going to be. And it was also very helpful to have a mentor who came from the business area, she actually came from catering and she was a brilliant woman. They gave me a very good personal advice how to pitch, how to define myself, and how to cost and value my work on how to say no if I was being offered work, but didn't recognize my own cost and my own value that I'm speaking here in Austin much from the big policy point of view and I really respect for Jerry O'Brien, and, and others from the organizations who are talking big policy and talking about the collective, and really trying to just pitch in a couple of comments here to the individual from the individual perspective. One thing that has been fundamental to my own personal survival has been the absolute need for one sustainable piece of ongoing work so I was fortunate, a couple of years ago to be appointed to the panel of creative associates, working on the creative Schools program, and that piece of work is on a two year by two year renewable contract, and it is effectively it is self employed but it's the equivalent of a part time income. And I think without that I would be facing into my old age, in a situation of extreme stress. So I think, I think those kind of pieces of work in education and and so on and so forth are fundamentally important and I think if we're not honest about that and if we don't actually embrace that and love it. I love everything about my work except a package, then then then then we're doomed to go wander and we're doomed to suffer mental health problems and so on. So I think, embracing the whole of the possibility is really really important on a personal level. I've been lucky in the last couple of years, I've had a couple of Commission's Public Art Awards and things like that, and things have picked up, but right now I'm looking at a downturn again, and I think much stronger and ready for that. I just want to finish off by just two things that I, we were asked to come on and say maybe a couple of things that, that are needed to improve artists and art workers pay and conditions. So again, speaking to people like myself who are working freelance as artists in the theater world. I think the first is the one I've already mentioned which is that that pain conditions are often determined by ourselves, you know, pricing, time management, etc. So if you're taking on, You know if you received a bursary and you decide I'm going to use this to do my dream project, you know after how many years in the business are you doing what I did for a couple of years when I became freelance still deluding myself about how much time it would take because I really wanted to get the piece of work done, but you can't really do that when you have two children in school, going on to college when your wife is in, in a separate but equally low income profession. I really want to commend some of the things that Dan Collie said about, you know, equating ourselves with people in other professions, I just want to mention that my spouse my wife Sharon, who was an actor is a full time professional care, and her hourly wage is lower than that which many of the arts workers who are learning, have low hourly rates are receiving that we are not alone. But both, you know, in terms of actually determining our household income, you know, I've really had to say to myself, you know, be truthful with yourself, You're not going to get that piece of work made this year you're going to take three years to raise that money and keep on taking bits and pieces of work that come your way and price them properly. The second is really moving out into the broader thing which is about overall income earning opportunities which remain largely out of our control and last point I want to finish up on here. Sorry, that's my warning.
Sorry, so just to wrap. We need to support the National Campaign for the Arts, on any advocacy of our own that we can art, where we can argue for a greater understanding among commissioning and funding bodies of the need for increased funding constantly and increase investment not only directly in bursaries and schemes and awards to artists which are very very important, but also in meaningful ways to the context within which artists and public artists work to local authorities, who are more and more important as funding bodies, outside of Dublin, creative Ireland is a really important funding body on a national basis the Arts Council isn't the only game in town, but also funding into communities and community projects and into the development of audiences, and to the development of markets. So the more money that is going into communities for for urban development for regeneration schemes for improved capital infrastructure. The more, the more work that is created for artists, and for self employed, artists to pitch for. And I suppose the last point then is really just about the need for constant training and retraining and mentorship for self employed solo practitioners in the arts, around changing and developing markets, digital markets, how to open your own Etsy shop. You know how to, you know, where there might be an opportunity that you would never have thought of before, to just put in for maybe 60 days of work in a year that might bring you in, maybe 1500 quid that will just help in terms of creating an overall portfolio. I don't think there are sufficient training and information sharing opportunities where those of us that have been through this route can share our experience and learn from others. So thank you very much for listening, I'm sorry if that was a bit all over the place. but thank you again for having
me. Thank you so much Declan. And thank you also to theater forum for the opportunity to speak. My name is Lucy Medlicott, and I'm the director of the Irish Street Arts circus and spectacle network. We're a grassroots membership organization, and specifically looking at developing and encouraging and growing the art forms of stration circus in Ireland and of Ireland today. And we saw our membership grow by 25% in the middle of a pandemic, and we now have over 180 members, literally in almost every county in Ireland and in several countries internationally. So we have a wide perspective on what the community looks like, and a wider understanding of the diversity of the diverse needs of many different artists of many different stages of their careers and and lifetimes, and, and just to echo exactly what everybody has said this morning, like I, I don't have anything new to add there and I think it's tough stuff we all already kind of know deep inside you know, below minimum wage, the lack of affordable housing. The lack of long term planning, and these are issues that really really affect and are riddled throughout and it's something that's common between all of us and as Dan pointed out many other sectors also. And our role in Isaac's is really to try to open doors for our members and to offer information on how they can protect themselves and how they can, you know, inform themselves about things that they need to have in order to have a secure future. And, and that is really the crux of it because we notice that in our particular sector which is extremely emerging and extremely underdeveloped and under resourced and that's sometimes even awareness that this is a profession is the very first step. So our first step is building confidence in our members to say that they are worth something, and to value their own output, and to treat themselves as worthy, worthy of receiving an income. And that's often a huge realization for many, many of our members who haven't acknowledged that Yes. And then the next step we notice is a complete under information, and as Declan was saying, equipping people with the skills they need to know how do I approach a pension, how do I approach a mortgage, how do I approach, health insurance, and in our sector health insurance is critical because, you know, their bodies for particularly for circus artists and I'm sure Sheila and dance will agree, is, is their, their career. So, health insurance is absolutely critical, but many probably don't have it, and, and that is a terrifying thought. And so for us, I just wanted to give you two quick stories, And I just, it just highlighted to me, the issues that our entire community face. One is the story of an artist that we've been working with for a number of years now, building her confidence building her show, building her professional reputation nationally and internationally taking her on tour to Italy and other places like that, and really supporting her to get on the ladder. Phenomenal artists, phenomenal creative potential huge ideas, extremely talented. I can't speak enough or better
cannot survive on any of the funding that has being offered has care duties, and is now working full time in a factory, and has no time to write applications because she's on shift work, and to me that's an immense loss. That's an immense loss, not only of the investment that I personally have put in, but to the arts community, to lose someone like her, because it's more expedient for her to work in a factory, than done filling in forms and trying to go, day to day. And my second story is about the introduction of the pub. And I had one particular artist rang me when the pop scheme came in and just said, Wow, this is incredible. It's like arrives in my account every week. and it's more than I've ever heard. And that to me is an absolute crime that someone receiving the pump, suddenly realizes what it is like to have a steady income. And that's all I have to say, I think that demonstrates the crucial critical nature, we find our artists and precarious living, we are in. Thank you.
Thank you, Lucy. It's my name is Paul nocton and I'm executive director at Arts and Disability Ireland. And thank you to everyone. In fact, I probably would. I echo most of what what's being said and most of its relevant to artists with disabilities but I want specifically to talk about. I suppose that the heart issue within the arts and disability community, and that is the interactions between artists with disabilities, and also as an organization, and as social protection, which has been a growing trend over recent years but has now, I think reached a point that there isn't a week that goes by, by, that at Arts and Disability Ireland we are not dealing with inquiries, around the needs of artists with disabilities and their interactions are their concerns about interacting with social protection when it comes to the disability allowance blind pension, and our blind pension and invalidity pension. And there are a number of issues, but the key one is that with disability alone some blind pension, any grant that an artist receives is regarded as means, and the means threshold for blind pension is 20,000 euro in terms of capital and 50,000 bar, and disability alone. However, as people will know means isn't just about money in your bank account, but also because of the, you know, the 20,000 threshold, and with a top grant of 15,000 euro for arts and disability connect at the moment for new work, it is possible for people to come closer to exceed those thresholds, just because they receive a bank. Grant into their bank account, even if most of that's been spent on the project, even if most of that has been used to pay other artists and artists. The artists themselves is only going to accept a small fee. So, are a small proportion of that as a fee. The other issue is that I suppose and we've had our Iping talked about the precarious nature and not knowing how much you're going to Aaron per week, and schemes like the blind pension and disability allowance were not designed for artists, and although many artists with disabilities are in receipt of receipt of the men still regard themselves as professional artists, and we do have a mismatch there between what we regard as professional artists and what even the Arts Council regard as professional arts practice and how our respective departments, be at social protection or the arts, actually regard him employment in for anybody. And, but in the case of, of both those scheme, are both those benefits that the.
You're allowed Aaron 140 euros, a week, and that up in the last year from 120. And in fact, their basic criteria around this hasn't changed since 2005 2007. So, I suppose. And of course the other thing is we have artists now contacting us who are on invalidity benefits are pension, who actually aren't meant to be working at all, but who don't do regard themselves as artists and want to know what they're going to do. And, and, in many ways this is not just affecting how we run art, the art and disability connect scheme and the amount of inquiries, we're now getting, but it's also impacting how we design projects we're doing with other art organizations and how we are going to pay the artists, and are we going to be in a position soon, where we actually are going are not going to be able to pay artists with disabilities who are on benefits, and it's a really precarious situation. However, I do think we need to acknowledge something which is that the system itself hasn't changed that much as I say since about 2005 2007 What has changed is there's a lot more reviews, and a lot more inspections, and consequently people are getting picked up and getting more concerned about their issue about falling foul of the systems. So there is a greater awareness, coming from both sides. And the other thing which I would say is we increased. It's actually one of the sad things that we increased, and managed to get an increase from the Arts Council this year for arts and disability connect raising the new work award from 1000 to 15,000 Euro. And I think that has also contributed to the fact that we're getting now getting more inquiries, because the awards are getting bigger. Isn't it sad that we're in a position where we've been able to negotiate more funding, and the Arts Council have been very willing to support arts and disability connect in giving more funding to the scheme. And that's now generating more concerns among artists about receiving funding. And the other issue and I think it's really important is that the system is very individualized. And it very much depends on who reviews your case if you do find yourself in front of an officer of social protection, and it also creates an issue for us in that, because the department wanted us review, one to deal with individual cases on an individual basis, it's very hard for us as an organization to get a global picture so that we can actually advise artists in a reasonable way. And with some. I wouldn't call it a thority but at least with a level of guidance that is useful. And that, that, that, that actually offer some protection, We're not in a position to do that. And the other thing which I would say is, although there is a campaign underway at the moment are not expecting a huge amount of change because I think some of these issues, don't just affect artists with disabilities, particularly with social protection schemes, they affect all people with disabilities so there's a bigger job of work for the disability sector to do in terms of advocacy. However, we do need support from the Arts Council, and we do need support from the departments to actually better understand the scheme, and the sorry the different benefits, so that we can advise artists, and also understand how our own scheme that we run on behalf of the Arts Council can better be can better work within the system. And the one thing that we are working on at the moment is a piece of research around ostracising, which is essentially a tripartite agreement between an artist or grant giver and
an organization that might hold money on an artist's behalf so that the artists can spend, they can spend the money on the artists behalf. There may well be legal issues with that but it's something that we need to work on because we need to figure a system out. The other thing, which we're looking at with created the moment as can we procure accountancy advice, so that we can support individual artists, with their inquiries, so they can better navigate the system and have their paperwork in order. And so, I suppose, in conclusion, what I would say is that I'm also and done colleague brought this up is, I am very keen to know how artists with disabilities may fit into the basic income pilot, but also, if it doesn't work, how do you go backwards because we've spoken in it I thought it, it's been brought up really well, clearly and very well. Is that not everyone can work full time, not everyone can do without supports, and there is very much a half or a half nos a can or cannot, but there is no area of gray. In fact I was interested in this is my last point because it's a personal one. And when Declan spoke about back to work. That was a scheme that I availed of when I was an artist. Back in the early 2000s are very nervous and. And I just realized, at the end of the four years of being supported, as it was at the time that I couldn't survive I ended up going to work in England and then came back to work at Arts and Disability Ireland so, in fact, back to work led me out the country and eventually led me back. And with that, I shall pass on to the next person. Thank you.
Hi, my name is muddy or curl. I am a theatre maker work as an actor and as a writer. And I, I've been thinking about this, the call out for this forum, and trying to pinpoint, How, how it feels and how experienced experience of working in this industry is affecting me and the people I know and work with, kind of on a cumulative basis so on. Like centsational level, you know, day to day self esteem. Choices limitations. And then obviously on, you know, financial basic level. And obviously the main impact of working precariously in this industry would be the living costs, and the worry of the living costs. It's not always a very steady income. It's very piecemeal for most, I think, and, and not having that steady income, obviously means that I myself, not since graduating 20 2015 And since 2016 I've had another form of income, on some level, in order to pay rent, bills, live in Dublin, not a cheap place to live. And, and, you know, there's, there's the obvious of when you're working a part time or full time job in order to live. There is the added chaos of not being able to say yes, then to the work in the industry that you're offered throughout. And then the visit the lack of or the visibility of being seen as working in an industry that isn't the arts, And that on a material level can affect you, you miss out on jobs, you miss out on being seen as a visible member of the industry, which I think is a very real experience, especially in festival time. And then on a like sensational level as an individual and as a community within, you know, an individual within a community. It can be quite hard and your self esteem because it becomes a sort of arson then mentality of Oh, some people have managed to live off this industry, and I'm not one of them. And, for me anyway that has manifested in a sensation of. I'm not really in this industry, and I'm not really part of this workforce. And, and that can be really cyclically difficult because it can push me further away from participating in the community aspect of the industry, and makes me feel kind of separate to us. So I think that's a very important aspect of this discussion as well. The the feeling of awesome them a hierarchy, sense of hierarchy you know some people can't afford to live off this industry and so can't. And for me, and I know this is in the works, thankfully, thanks to the incredible campaigning done by so many people in this country. And to me, a living artists wage would radically change this situation for me on this point that I'm making a sensational self esteem, community building level. I think you could forge a lot of more relationships both professional and otherwise, and build a stronger community. So I'm very, yeah, I'm very passionate about that.
and I'm Diane O'Connor, I'm an artist on freelance from facilitator and today I'm speaking on behalf of mothers artists makers, a feminist movement who advocate for and support parenting, artists, and I choke her fell, true, true team. So, you may also be hearing from Alex today. And so today we would like to remind members of the five family friendly practices that would make for a more gender balanced Irish theatre. Those are, Number one, symptomatic and some sympathetic scheduling and job share so flexible time tabling of rehearsals to accommodate parenting artists, writing the schedule in advance to allow parents to arrange childcare. Moon fish for example, work shorter workshop days over a longer number of weeks, same spread over a longer time frame, no cost at all to the budget, or SC job share we're safe monsters have gone week on week off with a row with a show contract or role shared on stage. Number two children in the workplace, find appropriate times, to allow children into the workshop, you just have to bear with me for one second.
Sorry. Yes. Yes. No. Are you sure assure you this not stage plants don't I would not do this to myself, voluntary, and so were worried. Yes, children in the workplace as you can see, and also to consider budgeting in your application for extra costs required, and for example paying for family room not doable on tour, a practice which is common in America. At number tree family friend staff training fund to host staff with family friendly training generates new audiences. Number four, childcare, a pop up creche will positively affect those who can attend your audition workshop forum or performance. And number three, asking the question, after you've signed a contract, ask your new hires, if they've any caring responsibilities that need to be accommodated. In addition to these recommend recommended practices, we have some other observations, we'd like to share with you. And so the average man moderators maker member has circuit 15 years professional experience behind them, and they need to be fairly compensated for their skills, education, and expertise. With that in mind, we welcome the proposed basic income guarantee pilot for artists and arts workers. We arrived just for the net because wider to include those members of the creative industries who have cared for others in the past years, and were unable to earn an income due to the smart systematic barriers, such as social protection regulations. This would ensure diversity and inclusion, have an authentic meaning as demanded by the fantastic and CFA as parenting artists. We are often on the lowest rung of the professional ladder. Many of us alone, parents, and such as we Pat her on the social welfare title. If we own more than 165 euro per week, it is taken from her womb, parents, family lands are considerations deciding whether or not to accept work is a real fear of homelessness for ourselves and our children. If we look at our European counterparts, sorry, job stability. If we look at our European counterparts, such as Poland and Lithuania, artists and art workers are paid employees of production companies as pay, pay, pay, a PA ye workers. These artists have Security, pension rights on fair eques equitable rates of pay and taxation, and we would much recommend a similar approach to artists and our workers here in our professional development, and like any sector, we are keen to continue our professional developments where creation. When creation a residential Carlos, consider the access costs that take parenting needs into consideration, flexible time frame that can be taken in discrete sections, rather than all at one go. If you're not sure what we need, just ask us. Okay. We welcome career specific professional development traditions models on venue lead residency, such as gap day and assemble. Mom is nearly finished. And we are constantly asking if parents and creative practice are mutually exclusive and envision a time when this is a redundant question to ask a boss as asking if being a member of any other profession, and being a parent are mutually exclusive, you may not recognize me. I am the mother who arrives just as the current noises and leaves as the curtain falls to relieve the babysitter, missing out on a valuable networking opportunities, a vital component of this industry as a voluntary organization we rely on goodwill of our members, generosity with their valuable time we'd welcome an affiliation with peers of form to undertake research on the existing best practice and accommodation of parenting artists needs in the IRA sector, and you on UK and US models, and thank you very much for listening to me today.
Thank you very much, Dan. My name is Peter power. I just say, before I speak that none of this is about blame. Because to me, and somebody blame is about giving away power, but it's more about observations on what I've seen is inter institutional traditions and cultural hierarchies around our industry. I kind of want to start from the top, or at least the near the top which review with the Arts Council, I kind of can't bring myself to talk but the government's. For me it's been really amazing and welcomed, with the increase in Arts Council funding in recent memory, times to tireless lobbying from the national campaign for the arts, and their partners and a whole host of other people that I can't begin to name right now. But I would say that more Arts Council funding should not simply mean that there should be more art. I think we need less art, and better page art. We have to work on too many shows every year to make a living. I think I was at a talk once that pointed out at the comparative earning capacity of a German artists in comparison to the Irish artists, they work on 50% of the amount of shows to make the same amount of money. And this is driving the quality of our life, the quality of our work and the quality of our industry through the floor. Those of us that have made work for ourselves who've been lucky enough to be funded know full well that the budgets that we have a lot of particularly small and medium sized companies relying on project or arts current funding these budgets are too tight or too small, under too stringent, people are paid poorly because the funding for the payment is poor. The budgets and limits, need to be drastically overhauled is not simply enough to say pay the artists. We need to have an industry wide reframing of pay structures. We are currently paying each other rates that are nearly 20 years old. Most of the payment structures and rates are based on potentially those, you know, nearly 20 lower rates, I suppose and are based on old understandings of role hierarchies, responsibilities and making practices, and our art is evolving, and we need to include different practices and technologies, and we need to understand that, to do the workload and role focus in some of these new technologies is very time taxing and this needs to be acknowledged, from an organizational standpoint, I think we need to have clear, clear dialogue around the increased higher costs that are now associated with, with our work. Ireland has a rental crisis in more ways than just housing, particularly when it comes to renting equipment, renting venues, etc, because some of the highest rates of rental for some of the lowest quality gear in Europe. And now, the situation in the UK with Brexit, the situation is worse and there's a National Insurance crisis being offset by changes in performance possibilities, and their most recently the appearance of requests for personal insurance on contracts material costs. Now an average of 25 to 40% more than a few years ago. And I would argue that accommodations becoming one of the deciding factors, of whom gets to work on a project, the scale of the project and the manifestation of that project. These costs don't get negotiated down effectively on mass, so the reality is that what suffers is feeds the general contingency and the hidden contingency and work made by small to medium companies is your fee. We don't like to admit this, but we all know that most of us have made work, and I've gone often unpaid or underpaid to make that work. I'd like to point out that we need to start to talk about creating a base for for entry into work. The industry is heavily unregulated around money practices, particularly when it comes to designers shout out to designers are those that are creating work themselves. We all started at working for rates lower that are sustainable, to try and make a living. Pony for this to come back around and scupper our earning potential later in our careers. I know emerging artists haven't mentioned, and raised today but I feel it's important to say something in response, we have a very problematic mid career issue in the arts, just as you reach a point when we're able to price ourselves accordingly to our skills and our talents, we begin to be undercooked by the same practices we engaged with ourselves when we start with those. As a result, it is very easy to reach a sustained, it's very hard to reach a sustainable point in your career when you get there, you process over work because of the nature of the industry to work within. And for those of us that don't envisage a staff job for ourselves, as we, you know, reach midpoint. This means there is no stable and major career outcome to work towards. If you are emerging. And then I'd like to just briefly speak about individuals.
Income is not just about your fee, it's about your wealth. It's about ongoing payments protection, we need to discuss ongoing rights, licenses, royalties, etc. This means we need much cleaner, more transparent and equitable contract discussion around the entire industry. We need to de stigmatize the idea of contracts and we need to make clear contracting available to all. I know some of this is underway now but it is severely lacking. I'm very lucky to be represented by an agency and I've heard quite a lot about exactly how lacking it is. We cannot continue with the traditional structures of royalty distribution that have held on, historically, namely, namely rewarding the writer. We need a deeper distribution of ongoing rights and royalties to create his own projects. This is because we need to confront the specter of what I would argue is collaborative device work where ownership around the same is complex, and we need to start having a conversation about who actually owns these ideas and these processes. And I'd like to finish up by saying, ultimately, this industry is designed to take advantage of precarious working, we all know, we know because we participate in it, and we suffer from it, because our nation state disadvantages freelance workers, as he finally has described, we are fractured and we have no central representation of unweight or consensus. And without that we will be left in the wind, and to the whim of others to represent us financially and socially. This is what I believe to be our fundamental weakness, we as individuals cannot fix this issue, asking the minimum wage worker to use a paper straw to save the planet offsets the responsibility onto the disempowered, I cannot fix this strategy can collective action can, but So Tim, what's the nature and expectation around the generation of artistic outcomes, the amount of art that is requested the scale of art, the quality of our, all these things have essentially inflated out of control. All our potential to create stability comes from our capacity to generate regulated and enforced conditions around pay contract rates rights and work until this happens and until we admit the industry is strategically unfair and relies on a deliver rule relationship between the wage and the own wage and our industry, when we stopped paying lip service to fairness on using the euphemism of social protection, we won't see change. Thanks very much. Hi,
my name is Elizabeth Weiss, and I am the Executive Director of Wexford Art Center and I'm also an elected director on the theater Forum Board and member of the venues subcommittees. I suppose my, my contribution will be kind of a relation to topics that are being raised already before regarding long term sustainability. The pay scales report commissioned by theater form paints a very bleak picture for artists and arts workers in Ireland today, the introduction of the pilot Basic Income scheme to 2022 is welcome also welcome for arts workers which I haven't heard talks about yet is the introduction of an auto enrolment pension scheme by government, in 2023, which will make it compulsory for employers to contribute to pension schemes for their employees expect the shadows to be reflected in artists contracts as part of an updated scheme in 2023 as well. While the universal benefit is welcomed there is still another major concern that many artists and arts workers face, which is housing. There have been heartbreaking stories shared by artists and arts workers in the media regarding their inability to secure rentals nevermind trying to get on the mortgage ladder, and having to resort to couch surfing in their 50s even on 327 euros a week, guaranteed payment, this basic right to housing, would still be an ongoing issue, so how can this be addressed in the performance sector internationally in the US and UK and in various countries and the EU. There are artists funds programs, which are over the years have raised funds to purchase housing, to provide opportunity for performance artists who are registered with relevant equity associations to have their name on a housing list, provide healthcare access support pension support and senior care support for the artists during their lifespan. While some may argue that these countries have large art sectors and better resourced artist organizations, they all started at some point, but little resources, and perhaps because of benefits provided have attracted more uptake in the art sector, and equity membership. We have seen during COVID 19 pandemic to civics call like for support for artists how people were willing to contribute to a fund to support artists in whatever small way possible. If there were opportunities to further to harness that support to contribute to investing in long term sustainability for artists and arts workers, that could be part of all arts organizations best model of practice, that will be a worthy investment through networking partnership and collaboration of arts organizations, perhaps to apply the program in association with Actors Equity, we could establish a performance artists and arts workers fund in Ireland and work towards similar mission as international arts funds organizations, which is to foster stability and resiliency, provide a safety net for performing arts professionals over their lifespan and envision a world in which individuals contributing to our country's cultural vibrancy, are supported valued and are economically secure. To quote from the late Brenda canali prom begin. Do we live in a world that dreams of ending this always seems about to give in, something that will not acknowledge conclusion insists that we forever, begin. So let's just begin to develop new support models for artists and arts workers lifespan. Thank you. Hi,
I'm Catherine Young, can you hear me. I'm a dance artist and choreographer I've been working in order for the past 15 years since I returned from the States. I just think theater forum for organizing this for having me speak unto all the other artists I pretty much echo what everybody has said so far. For me, I'm speaking on behalf of, I guess dance in Ireland to follow up to Sheila. And one thing I want to start with is for me there are very few female choreographers, over 50 working in Ireland, and for me as a choreographer that's it's, you know, it paints a pretty big picture for us, and even talking to other dancers in their 40s mid 40s people are dropping off the sector and if we don't fix this then we Yes new dancers will come in and we'll still have a sector, but we won't have a sector that will mature and will lose scale and expertise in the industry. Myself, I live in Cary, and that was a choice even though I'm from Dublin to allow me work as an artist and it's kind of served me well but post pandemic those with living in rural Ireland are having the same challenges with with increase in rents and and costs. Probably one of the things to start with them and again like Peter it's not a blame game it's just looking at the systems and structures that that aren't serving us at the moment and and for dance in particular we tend to be sometimes lower down the totem pole than than other art forms, and, you know for us with the project award of up until last year it was, you know 60,000 versus 150 for theater, and 450 for opera, and that off the bat puts us on a lower playing field, and the cost of a lighting designer of space of tech crew is the exact same cost so what happens is the dancer fee gets cut down to the choreographer fee gets cut down. I would echo what what Peter also said in terms of costs, you know, I'm making a new show, the cost of the projector I need for the two week run will be twice my salary for rehearsal so that's, that's, that's problematic, you know, what do you do, do you do put the artistic integrity of your show first, or do you pay yourself. So these are questions and of course as artists we will put the artistic integrity of the work first always, but that that is problematic. I think also an issue that sometimes are said to me, is it you know if you do get a Project Award for 100,000 You have to bankroll 20% of that, that's 20,000 that you have to be able to have at the end of the project and you and you don't see that payment until all the accounts go in so that can be a stressful period in terms of wanting to pay your whole cast and crew immediately after a production, but not being able to budget accommodation is a huge one for me I'm not based in Dublin. So I typically work, you know, if I'm making a decent carry I have to bring everybody in. I'm making the next piece with Mona and Longford, I have to bring everybody in. So the the accommodation line is is massive. And I wonder, could we think creatively in terms of working with local authorities because I'm sure if we calculated the accommodation budget for for all kind of theater, opera and dance productions, you know, there's a huge proportion going on housing accommodation hotels, you know, is there a way to work collectively, you know with venues to have artists housing, you know, in collaboration with local authorities, I'm not sure something to consider. Space is also an issue but they're there, you know, as dancers, we can't work on this we have rehearsal space, and oftentimes a lot of us are going into the same festival so there's usually a close on space at the same time. So, you know it's it's something that that can be quite stressful for us, and again the dance pool is quite small, because there are bottlenecks in terms of performance times, we're all looking for the same dancers at the same time which, which can be challenging, and then the dancers miss out because they have to turn down work instead of it being equally spread out. We don't have a union as dancers So Dan, would love to chat with you or maybe share information with Dan Saarland on your union. So I think for us a sharing of information on actual rates for jobs and based by experience, you know, you should, should a dancer who's just come out of college, get paid the same as a dancer that's been working in the industry for 15 years, that's a question, But I think if we all could adhere to the same standards payment and practice, then we don't get under caught and we don't undercut ourselves, and that is an issue as Peter said like, you know, when you finally get to the mid career stage and you want to charge your actual rates, you know, they'll always be somebody cheaper. We do spend as nearly everybody mentioned an extraordinary time on preparation time and admin and that that is problematic and how do we cover that. And I think oftentimes you feel that we don't have power or we, we, you know, if you hit issues, or, you know challenges with venues or organizations or festivals. You are the artist, you always feel like you don't have the power you have to just roll along and not cause any problems if conditions aren't right. So we're looking at ways to collectivise on that.
And we talked about tax breaks, you know as choreographers were not tax exempt so if a composer, a writer, a sculptor, a visual artists sells a piece of work, they, they don't pay tax on us as creators we do so, you know, on a show my composer won't have to pay tax on his artistic income for the show but I will have to pay tax on my choreography so it would be great to have more parity among, among our firms So John's isn't less than the other art forms, and then something that's come up as an issue for artists I've been talking to lately with the the kind of coming on stream of funding from from Creative parliament from local authorities for, you know, community based projects or for any artistic projects on like what the Arts Council at these payments go through and artists accounts that can push them into a vat threshold so if you receive 20 grand to run a product project from Korea to Ireland, and it's a contract for services, and even if you may be getting two or three from that, you know that can push you into a vat threshold, you know which push means that you have to pay tax, or, you know, 23% on your entire income so how can we lobby government to change that, too, so that it's more in line with with the way Arts Council funding is treated. What else yeah and as much as we have to wear so many hats, I think that dilutes from your artistic practice and again it comes back down to not having the adequate funding to be able to, you know, you know, hire a producer for the gig. I think that's most of the, I think, with Downs in general. A lot of times, you know I like to make large ensemble work. And then as you as you as you mature in the industry, you have to ask yourself the question, do I have to let go of that in order to be able to pay everybody right and pay myself right as I get older, or do you have to change the nature of your, your artistic practice. And that's, that's a that's a, you know, that's a troubling question you know when you found your voice and you found your way of working and you want to continue with that, I think, is to echo Peter there is a lot of focus on products on making product and you finish your show and then you're on to the next one. And it's like we have, we have this whole host of products that we don't get out on tour enough, and maybe even develop further or, or get off the island so it would be lovely to be able to have more time for development for, you know, redeveloping work and actually having time to, to explore ideas and develop your practice so that it isn't this constant churning out of work which I think depletes everybody a little bit. I think that's I think everything else has been echoed but, You know, I think, I think, the value of what we've done over lifetime I think has been immense. You know, in terms of society seeing art differently. I do think Don makes a really valid point of, you know if it's only the artists that are getting universal basic income that that you know that defies that the university ality of it, and could be problematic. So it would be great to find solutions to this in terms of how, you know, how we can change systems between funding bodies, and between venues so that the artists are at the center of the practice and and not and not the disposable, which, which, you know, we often can be. So that's my contribution. Thank you.
Thanks so much Catherine and I suppose, just as we're coming to you know, to this point in the conversation. There's been so much said this morning, that's of such value, I think, in thinking about and paying conditions. And in looking at some of the stats that have come through from the CSO, it's obvious that you know this sector is recovering, less well, and less quickly and than almost any other. I mean we share the title of one of the most precarious sectors of the mall with hospitality and with retail. And as the economy has made the surprise recovery in recent weeks. It's obvious that the pay and conditions in these sectors, and the precarious ones are actually falling further behind, rather than moving ahead. So that's a really unfortunate outcome if you like, of, of the emergence or the reemergence into the economy recovering and but just before we finish I'm not sure if Maureen is on the call or I see Liz and titled as Maureen but would Maureen like to come in at this point with some comments on what's this morning, or is it you Liz sorry,
Maureen here Hi Anna,
you. Yeah, can you hear me okay. Brilliant. Great, thanks a million Listen, thanks so much for the opportunity today and thanks for the sterling work done as you say, and as everybody said, bleak findings indeed of the survey because third they're not too much of a surprise but. And when you consider just like you said Anna that the recovery from COVID is going to mean that the profession, and I like very much what you said Lucy about let's call it professional sector because indeed it's all professional, and that when yours emerged that it's going to be further behind again, compared to other sectors. And, and I hear everybody on the call has articulated articulation so clearly, is the need for new support models that, you know, there are so many structural issues and that the recession of more than 10 years ago now push the profession back so much that there's, there's so much room to make up. Now we have an opportunity to do which you know so I think we should be
embracing the future with optimism but with a clear certainty of the origins nature to change things and a quote that I've used a lot that I read from a Canadian educator called George de so that inclusion is not about bringing people into what already exists, it's about creating a new space and a better space for everyone and I believe that's the job that we need to do in the Arts Council, working with you yourself stitch form Oh the other resource organizations as well. And I'm glad to hear are paying the artists policy referenced, so regularly and that it has helped people we've still lots of work to do on that score of course so next year you'll see us doing lots more research and working with resource organizations to make sure that you know the clarity around pay scales and so on, that's that we really drive that home so that those standards can be raised so that, you know, as you say it's, it's about creating a proper living environment for artists in Ireland, not just something where you're endlessly under the pressure to do when to deliver because you're so passionate and dedication committed to what you do, and that the work is the be all and end all we have to work together to make sure that this can be a feasible way of life, you know, and that we, we make sure this, You know the lip service that's often paged, to the arts in Ireland, that, that we absolutely eradicate that that we make that something that we look at in the rearview mirror, just some other points and what I heard when I won't dwell on too long but the need to make our own processes clear I hear what you say about the time spent in applications, locally, we now have more investment so, at least in the history for people applying is special, but we are mindful of, of the complexity that you find in some of the processes and many of the processes, and we are going to be working with some of you in terms of the new business transformation the new IT system so thank you for your help and collaboration with us on that. And I wanted to dwell too on the points that were made about artists with disability. And that's something that we've raised with the department in recent months, it's a huge concern for us. And in terms of us making sure that the art landscape is far more representative of the fact that half million people in Ireland, live with a disability, we want we have to make sure that the arts landscape is vastly more representative, and the barriers that are there, and the particular one, in terms of the pension and the means testing and so on. And that's something that we'll be raising with the minister in a couple of weeks time so absolutely acknowledge that that's a very, very urgent issue for people also wants to say about caring responsibilities and that's something that has come across very strongly to us in recent months, and we'll be looking at that. And just going back to access for a second, we are focusing on community, communicating to people that you know there is help there if people have challenges with regard to the, the application submit but also that we're actively encouraging projects and companies and individuals to include your access costs in your application and we have a good budget there to deal with that. And just to say as well that the or recent round of agility awards, and we will pushing those bring much to first time applicants and very pleased to see that there were a very high number of new applicants there, and from a wide diversity wider diversity of backgrounds, then then before so, you know, that's something that would be very much focusing and building on next year, and then maybe just finally to say that, and the island, where you have established companies like Gauri is was for clipton Arts Festival and introducing new bursary schemes, and that's that's something that's very commendable. And we understand of course that there's always a tension between organizations and artists and as we go into the kind of heavy business of budgeting ourselves for next year, that's something that we're very mindful of to make sure that that balance is catered for. So, just finally today thanks again so much for all the great work and all the great contributions this morning. Thanks, Anna.
And thanks Maureen, just Dan's words I think are ringing in our ears that basic income, you know for artists, is not because artists are complete a special case or because it's treated as a special case. But because working as an artist or as an arts worker is so precarious. So just, I think Sharon wanted to come back in just on the having listened to the conversation this morning, Chairman.
Yeah I suppose just,
I mean, again, you know, as I said previously, we don't have huge amount of detail, but I hear very loudly, what people are saying they're around a universal basic income versus what's proposed we've funding for which is a basic income specifically for the art sector. Now, you know, I think they are the same, but different in that the policy we're working on, which is the basic income guarantee for artists and arts workers comes out of that recommendation of the life worth living report but there is a separate commitment in the program for government to look at a universal basic income. So I think suppose we just had to be careful. I mean, the project that we're doing is not a value judgment on any other sector or whether a basic income would be a good intervention in other sectors, it's just that our department doesn't have responsibility for that. And so I suppose just need to be sure that this intervention is separate from the consideration of universal basic income which I understand the Department of Enterprise are working with ESRI and they're currently doing research into that and that's a much bigger I suppose project, and probably more long term. And I wouldn't see the artist basic income guarantee being mutually exclusive, but it will happen sooner because we're going to put that in place next year. And so I think while they're connected. There's a lot of work going on on the universal with the universal basic income proposal with the low pay commission, and because that's economy wide, you know, We won't be looking at that from our departments point of view, but it's certainly the research is going on. And it's very interesting to hear where people have to say and I think from a policy perspective, the whole perspective, as was the point of the basic income guarantee is to try and support artists and people working in the art sector around that increments stability, peace, and, you know, so I think I suppose just, it's not a universal basic income and that it's very much sector specific, because it follows the life worth living report, but the model that we're looking at will be very much like a universal basic income and while you know we haven't finalized all the details. The plan will be that we wouldn't be looking at means tested it's very much not a social welfare support that it's actually the payments like that it's earned income, and you know if you're an artist, it's, that's, we will consider that it's the basic income is to pay for your practice for your appraisal practice but, I mean, I suppose, I think I would caution against mixing those two things up because I think this is a really important intervention and great that we've gotten funding for it and get it across the line, that it will feed into the universal basic income considerations bush. At the moment that's a much bigger project that is economy wide and you know I wouldn't want to say to hold off doing the basic income for artists in lieu of universal because we have the phones and bars, and they can start next year and I think that it's really important that it does. I absolutely accept, where you're coming from in terms of universality and maybe the perception that might be out there and that's something we'd have to think carefully about and but we'll certainly be moving forward with a very sector specific intervention that will feed into that broader one, but I think they're not mutually exclusive, I suppose what I would say. And, thanks.
It's great. Thank you, Sharon. And I think I can only. I think we've all been, for the most thoughtful and extraordinary contributions from everybody this morning, we really appreciate what everybody has put together, and has shared with us this morning it's been it's been remarkable. And I think, incredibly useful for all of us and we hope that this is the first of many conversations about paying conditions, and improving those and collectively taking the action to improve those, there is a little bit of overcoming, maybe some of the boundaries and barriers and, you know from historical divided and fragmented sector, maybe to being more collective in our approach to achieve something bigger, and not get left behind as the economy recovers, and other workers, expect to see improvements and increases in pay and conditions for artists and arts workers not to get left behind because of the practices and vicious cycle as somebody described of subsidizing, and poor pay continuing. So, the first of many conversations but as I say, We're hugely appreciative of everybody on the call this morning, and for everybody, especially, everybody who contributed. Thank you. Next up, after a short break. If you want to grab a cup of tea for those people, I think some people are moving straight into Peter Daly's workshop on tax and tax returns which is happening over lunchtime. So I think for those people who are attending. We'll see you there in 15 minutes after you get a chance to grab a cup of tea, or some lunch and but thank you to everybody this morning, and more again on this issue in the next few weeks.