In 2017, a new pilot scheme was introduced for artists’ social security support. The scheme was developed in partnership between the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. The scheme gave new acknowledgement to the professional status of visual artists and writers applying for Jobseeker’s Allowance from the Department of Social Protection. It was part of a key commitment made by Creative Ireland to artists under the Creative Ireland Programme. Visual Artist Ireland and The Irish Writers Centre provided expert knowledge for the development of the one-year pilot scheme as both these organisations are approved to certify the professional status of artists under their respective discipline.
In 2019, the scheme was made permanent and is now open for applications from a wider range of professional artists including actors, dancers, street performers and musicians. Under this new scheme, the criteria for Jobseeker’s Allowance remains the same but professional artists who are self-employed will be able to have ‘artist’ as their primary profession. This professional status of artists has not been recognised in the past by the social welfare system. The new system now makes this easier and artists will no longer have to hide their primary profession so as to access supports. During the COVID-19 crisis in 2020, artists were entitled to avail of an emergency relief payment scheme similar to other workers. In acknowledgement of the greater impacts on the sector a special CRSS (Covid Restrictions Support Scheme) was also implemented in the budget 2021 with immediate effect in October 2020.