#COVID-19: Some helpful tips
[this post is being constantly updated as news comes in]
It goes without saying that this Corona Virus has hit us all with a total shock and many of the ISACS members are now in a serious crisis due to the immediate loss of earnings for the foreseeable future.
First: Please see the Department of Health guidelines here for advice on how to manage and control the spread of this virus.
Second: ISACS does not have any solutions, but we can offer you some practical advice which may help get you through the next few weeks.
- The Artists Jobseekers Allowance is available to anyone who works as a professional artist.
Full official information for same is available here through the Dept of Social Welfare.
In order to qualify for this allowance you must present a Certificate which is available to ISACS members identifying that you are a professional artist. You can log in to the ISACS website now with your Member password and submit the application for same in advance of applying via your local Social Welfare office and send them this certificate with you for your application.This scheme lasts for one year and allows you to continue to work as an artist without being ‘activated’ (showing letters that demonstrate that you are looking for work, or attending training in various programmes).
- COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Benefit:
If you are self employed you can apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Benefit. This was increased from €203 to €350 per week on the 24th March 2020. If you have already applied for this, you do not need to do anything, it will automatically update. This includes students and part time/casual workers.
If you have one adult and one or more dependent children you should claim a Jobseeker's Payment instead of the COVID-19 Pandemic Payment. This is because you can claim an additional allowance for dependents, bringing your payment over the €350 per week.
- If you have been forced to self-isolate due to #COVID19 you are entitled to illness benefit. Full details on the Dept of Employment Affairs and Social Protection here.
- Benefit will rise from €203 to €350. No minimum PRSI contributions are required; so this applies to freelance, sole traders etc. Medical certification is required to say that it is Covid related. N.B: Two weeks maximum payment.
- The COVID-19 Wage Subsidy is a scheme which allows employers to pay their employees during the current pandemic. Employers will be refunded up to 70 percent of an employee's wages - up to a level of €410. An employer must demonstrate that they have lost up to 25% of their trade. Employers are being encouraged to top up this scheme. More info here.
- Applications for the Refund scheme for the Wage Subsidy with Revenue are available here.
- It may still become necessary for some Employers to offer Short term Layoffs. This only applies for temporary situations and the employer must inform the employee in advance. More information about this is available here.
- Organisations that need to reduce hours or days worked can avail of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Short Term Work Support. More info on same here.
- The form required for short term Layoffs is called an RP9. Download same here.
Funding and Support:
- Culture Ireland have developed a new fund together with the Dept of Culture and Facebook Ireland for delivering online content. Special consideration will be given to those who were planning on presenting work internationally in 2020. Max award €1000. Full details of scheme here.
- The Arts Council of Ireland have announced a new funding stream - COVID19 Crisis Response Award. Max award €3000. Deadline for applications Thursday 16th April. Full details here.
- The Wheel has published a very comprehensive support page, which is available here.
- Touring Production companies may have already planned national and international tours. As the international situation is evolving so quickly, it’s advisable to follow the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade - Travel Advice. If you have to cancel international travel read advice from the European Consumer Centre. Many airlines are removing flight change fees, if you change your flight before March 31st. Several airlines are grounded since the 24th March, for all flights except repatriation/rescue services.
- If you are traveling to the European Union, make sure you have a valid European Health Insurance Card.
- A quick guide to the travel restrictions in place and your consumer rights is available from The Irish Times here.
- Read the Government's National Action Plan for Covid19 here.
- The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation have announced details of a package of supports that they will put in place for businesses impacted by COVID19. Please read this link for full details on these supports:
- Enterprise Ireland are offering the following supports here.
- The Minister for Finance outlines measures to support individuals and businesses here.
- The SBCI, in partnership with the Dept of Business, Enterprise and Innovation have a loan scheme available for Novel Business industries who normally do not have enough resources to qualify for a loan. Loans available of €10,000 to €1million. Check it out here.
- Three Pillar banks - AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank have offered assurances to the Government that they will continue to support their business customers. Talk to your bank about your financing needs. Government discussions with the banks outlined here.
- The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht have made this announcement.
- The Garda Síochána have announced that they are putting in place a COVID-19 National Co-Ordination Unit in the interest of public safety. More details on same here.
- If you are working from home, you can claim tax relief on your household expenses. Please review Revenue’s guidelines on same here.
- If you need help with Rent or Housing payments, you may qualify for the Rent supplement or the Housing Assistance Payment. Full details on how to apply here.
- If you need to take a Mortgage Break due to Covid 19, please consult with your bank directly. Many of them are implementing a three month break.
- Emergency measures in relation to Rent, evictions etc to protect tenants are being introduced. Legislation is due this week to amend the Residential Tenancies Act 2004-2019. More info here.
- If you pay Commercial rates, you may qualify for a three month rates relief, if you have had to close or curtail activities. Please consult your local authority. More details here.
- The European Union sets out their response here to counter the economic impact of COVID19. Some key points:
- The Commission considers that the COVID-19 pandemic qualifies as an “unusual events outside the control of government”. This allows accommodating exceptional spending to contain the COVID-19 outbreak such as health care expenditure and targeted relief measures for firms and workers.
- In the coming weeks EUR1 billion will be redirected from the EU budget as a guarantee to the European Investment Fund to incentivise banks to provide liquidity to SMEs and midcaps. This will help at least 100,000 European SMEs and small mid-caps with about EUR 8 billion of financing. We will also provide credit holidays to the existing debtors that are negatively affected.
- The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund could also be mobilised to support dismissed workers and those self-employed under the conditions of the current and future Regulation. Up to EUR 179 million is available in 2020.
- Creative Europe’s response is available here.
- For a full listing of supports being put in place across Europe in the cultural sector, please review the On the Move/Circostrada response page here.
Public Policies for COVID19:
- Many centres of creation and training are now closed to the public and have big restrictions on access, also for staff. Please continue to support these centres.
- At some point we will be able to open again, in this case we will need policies in place in the interests of public health. Galway Community Circus and Dublin Circus Project have published their COVID19 policies which you can view here:
- You can also download the public health poster for use in your space here.
- Download the full public communications pack for use with your community and in your space here.
- As regards Data Protection during COVID-19, please take note of this useful page created by our colleagues at The Wheel.
- You may have already checked your insurance cover and found that it is unlikely to cover cancellations or postponements due to unforeseen events including the Coronavirus outbreak as well as adverse weather such as the storms and flooding in the last few months. We have talked to our partner insurance broker IOMST and they have shared the following document providing information on the matter [IOMST-Statement-for-ISACS-Members-Covid-19].
- If you hold an insurance policy and want to get fair treatment by the insurance industry in the midst of this crisis, please take this survey here.
- We advise you to read this succinct Q&A here for advice on what your policy might cover and then GO & READ your policy,. If you have ‘Business Interruption’ or ‘Infectious Diseases’ please let us know directly. We want to fight this corner.
Arts Council Funding and Support:
- If you are an organisation that is receiving Arts Council funding, they have assured us that they will honour all their funding commitments for 2020, even if a project can now not taken place due to #COVID19. They specifically encourage all of these core funded organisations to prioritise paying the artist even if the work cannot go ahead. Please read full statement from the Arts Council here.
- The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has issued this statement honouring funding commitments for 2020 and advising future applications to take into consideration current restrictions around travel and public participation.
How can I/we help?
- ISACS are in communication with the Department of Culture and are seeking your core data to help us communicate the impact of this crisis. If you work in Street Arts/Circus/Spectacle please complete our survey here.
- The Arts Council are seeking data on the impact of Covid 19 on artists here. Please respond by Thursday 9th April.
- The Charities Regulatory Authority are also seeking data on the impact of Covid 19 charitable organisations here.
- The National Campaign for the Arts are seeking your data on a weekly basis here.
- Please support the work of the Irish Showmen's Guild in protecting the future of the Touring Funfairs and Circus community by signing their petition here.
- The Civic Theatre have very generously initiated an Artists Emergency Relief Fund, which you may donate to and support artists that are struggling to survive through this crisis. Make your donation here.
- The Bread and Butter fund to support artists in Northern Ireland welcomes donations here.
- The Community Foundation of Ireland have started an Emergency relief fund for vulnerable communities. More information about how to become a partner is here.
We are compiling a list of Concerns and Questions which we will be endeavouring to seek answers for. Please email us your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Some of the information answering these questions can be found in the links provided above.
Emergency Government Packages:
- Will there be an aid package for freelance artists and artistic companies/organisation affected by loss of earnings due to #Covid2019?
- Will the Arts Council or the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht introduce some emergency measures?
- Will the EU offer some forms of protection for loss of earnings to artists?
- If yes to any of the above, how will it be distributed/allocated?
- Will Festivals/events or pre booked gigs be reimbursed to loss of income and will that income be passed on to the artists who have lost the booking?
- Similar to the postponing of payments for mortgages etc, will companies be able to postpone payments for things like insurance bills?
Travel, flights and reimbursement of same:
- If we have booked and paid for travel arrangements, and due to COVID 19 the event is cancelled, how can we redeem these flights?
- Will Travel insurance redeem travel costs or do we need to buy only flights that are going to be reimbursed in the event of a passenger cancellation, or will they only be redeemed if the state refuses all travel etc?