- 21 Sep 23
The scheme is based, the Youth Council explain, on experiences of other EU member states and would both benefit the arts sector and help young people re-engage with cultural activities post Covid.
The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) is urging the Irish Government to introduce an €87.7 million "Culture and Media Card" scheme for all young people aged 18-24 in Budget 2024. The call comes ahead of Culture Night,, which takes place on Friday 22 September.
The proposal is inspired, The National Youth Council explains, by successful models in other EU member states. Among its aims are revitalising youth engagement in cultural activities, strengthening the media sector, supporting small and medium businesses and enriching young people’s social, cultural, and personal development.
According to Paul Gordon, NYCI Director of Policy and Advocacy: "The COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on young people's ability to experience culture and participate in the arts, and the cost-of-living crisis means many remain locked out of these important activities.
“It’s clear from recent Arts Council figures, which showed a 12% drop in the number of 16- to 24-year-olds attending their events, that more supports are needed. We’re calling for investment by Government in 2024 in a Culture and Media Card, having seen the benefit in countries like France, Spain and Germany. Such a scheme will foster a habit of participation in culture, media, and the arts among young people, and offer a boost to our creative sectors.”
Young people’s response to the proposal has been positive according to the NYCI. One young person Ross Boyd, 24, shared this reaction: “I think it's a great idea […] to help young people to afford this, given the extra pressures on cost of living. I'd certainly use it for things like my local theatre, art galleries in Dublin city and books and records.”
Supporting local business
NYCI says that the scheme can support sectors of the economy struggling post-pandemic: “We know that many small and medium enterprises are still grappling with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our proposal would help remove barriers to young people discovering media, culture and the arts, provide an economic uplift to local communities and incentivise the Irish media sector to better connect with younger audiences.”
Funds for such schemes are typically allocated through an app or online account, and cover various cultural domains such as live arts, digital media, books, and records. NYCI is proposing that larger streaming platforms should be excluded so that smaller artists, and local companies involved in creative work benefit most.
Equity of access
“We want to see local communities see the benefit of this and believe it is important that any such scheme would promote equity of access to creative activities, particularly for the marginalised young people many of our member organisations are working with nationwide,” continued Mr Gordon.
“The “Culture and Media Card” is an investment in the cultural and personal development of young people that will yield dividends not only for young people but for society as a whole,” concluded Mr Gordon.
The Culture and Media Card part of a wider package of investment of €264m that NYCI is calling for in Budget 2024, which includes supports to address the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on young people, youth homelessness and youth work supports.
The costed proposals are detailed in NYCI’s Pre-Budget Submission, which you can read - here.