- 07 Feb 20
As the country gears up for the general election, we asked a selection of Irish musicians about the key issues concerning them.
Ireland is known for its contributions to art and culture – and last year they launched a social welfare scheme that was going to benefit artists. I thought it was such good news at first. I thought we were finally getting some support from the government.
But when you look into it, you realise it's basically unemployment benefits – which adds to the stigma that we’re not doing real work, and we’re just scrounging off the government. There's so many restrictions when you look into it – first of all, the timeline of one year. There’s no timeline for an artist to create an entire body of work.
There are also so many different barriers of entry into the scheme. First, you have to be unemployed – but there are so many artists who can’t afford to be unemployed. If you’re working in retail, you don’t qualify.
And then there's the biggest issue – if you’re applying for the scheme, you have to first be registered as self-employed with Revenue, and 50% of your income from the last year has to have come from your professional art. Most artists are not making money from their music at the start, so it makes no sense.
When you look into it, you find they don’t give two craps about how we’re doing and how we’re surviving. The mentality of the struggling artist continues, because people just look at us like we’re not doing a real job. In 2020 that’s insane. It’s crazy that we have to be on the dole to get support as musicians.
I’m an independent artist, so all my projects depend on funding. I’m not signed to any label. I keep hearing that there’s not enough female musicians out there – but as a female musicians, I know the obstacles that we face. Some artists don’t have enough funding for the PR that would get their music on the radio.
I want a party that will prioritise the arts. There’s such an influx of tourism, but the artists are dropping away. Before you realise it, there’s going to be nothing left.
Politicians just don’t seem to grasp the reality of what people living and working in this country are really facing. They have this rose-coloured ideal of how someone who’s working, earning 35,000 a year, can still afford to save and get a mortgage. This is why young professionals have had enough of politicians making empty promises when it comes to election times. When they’re in power, there’s no follow through.
However, I've been encouraged to see huge queues of young people registering to vote in the Garda stations for this election. When you have to choose the lesser of evils, people often just tend not to vote. This time, people are realising that to keep on doing that is just keeping the same people in power. More youths are actively getting involved to somehow make their voice heard.
It’s different this year, and I’m so happy to see it. It’s a refreshing change – because we usually leave it to the older people, and hope for the best. But this is our time, so we have to take things into our own hands.