We have continued to work hard on behalf of our respective members to ensure our sector has a voice and is not left behind. Below are details of some advocacy work we have been doing. Please keep getting in touch with us and bringing us up to date.
We continue to engage at all levels about the perilous position of the sector including our individual artists, arts organisations and venues that make up our sector. Letters, submissions, and many conversations and meetings have taken place with individuals, many groups, here, with our colleagues in the UK and in the Republic of Ireland; and with MP’s, MLA’s, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Department for Communities, with the Arts Collaboration Group, and many others.
In the days ahead, we’re working collaboratively to write a comprehensive document to the NI Executive outlining the impact of COVID-19 on our sector and the continued need for a series of short term, medium and longer term needs. It is long past the time for our sector’s true value to be recognised and acknowledged; its organisations and all its worker’s rights and health and well-being to be protected and supported appropriately as other business sectors have.
26th March 2020
Shortly after we closed our office on the 18th March, Theatre and Dance NI,along with our colleagues, UK Theatre and Society of London Theatre, Federation of Scottish Theatre and Creu Cymru, Theatre and Dance Northern Ireland submitted a letter seeking clarification on issues affecting our sector including business continuity, the loss of revenue, insurance, closure advice, and the Job Retention Scheme. The letter included a call for a mechanism for direct income support for self-employed freelance workers and for those on casual/zero contracts. This letter which can be viewed below was sent to the British Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport; and the Shadow Labour and Liberal Democrat DCMS Ministers / Secretary of State for culture; Communities Minister Northern Ireland; Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture, Scottish Government; and the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Welsh Government; the shadow Ministers/spokespeople for culture in the Welsh Assembly/Senedd, The Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly; and the Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.
24th April 2020
Email to Director of Culture of Dept for Communities Maeve Walls in response to the Minister’s announcement on 27 March 2020 on the £1million Creative Support Fund. Email to request an update on when the package would be expected, again highlighting urgent concerns of the sector.
Letter to Minister for Communities on behalf of the sector, Deirdre Hargey, 6th May 2020
On 6 May Theatre and Dance NI, wrote a letter to Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey in response to the announcement and opening of the Artists Emergency Programme (AEP) by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) on 27th April, ‘to support artists and performers during the COVID-19 crisis’. This letter was written in direct response to the number of members who reached out to Theatre and Dance NI with concerns about the fund. Some members then supplied case studies which were sent to the Minister in a very detailed letter. See below for an abridged version of the letter. The case studies will not be published in full to protect the identities of the artists. Thanks to all those artists who engaged with us and sent their case studies. A summary of the key points contained in this letter can be found here: Abridged Letter from Theatre and Dance NI to Minister Hargey in response to the Artist Emergency Programme
Evidence submitted to the DCMS enquiry on ‘impact of COVID-19 on DCMS sectors, 11th May
Along with our colleagues UK Theatre and Society of London Theatre, Federation of Scottish Theatre and Creu Cymru, Theatre and Dance Northern Ireland submitted evidence to the DCMS enquiry into the ‘impact of COVID-19 on DCMS sectors’. The DCMS Committee will consider both the immediate and long-term impact that Covid-19 and the related social and financial measures are having on the wide range of industries and organisations under the Committee’s remit and expects to hold a number of evidence sessions from late April onwards to hear directly from stakeholders, arms-length bodies and Government about what is being done and what further support is needed. Click here to read the submission.
Statement from the Arts Collaboration Network (ACN), 12th May 2020
The ACN wrote to the Arts Council NI and Department for Communities (DFC) raising a number of issues affecting our sector and the COVID-19 response. To read the statement and about the issues raised, click here. The Arts Collaboration Network is a group of cultural sector support organisations, including Dance and Theatre NI and consists of representatives from music, visual arts, voluntary arts, disability artists, business support organisations and the broader creative sector. Each organisation has been trying to support and communicate the needs and challenges faced by their members and constituencies during the Covid-19 crisis.
ACNI Artist Emergency Programme – Q&A with Caoileann Curry-Thompson, Drama & Dance Development Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland
Theatre & Dance NI hosted a Zoom session with Drama & Dance Officer Caoileann Curry-Thompson attended by over 80 members of our drama and dance sector, providing a much-needed platform for individual artists to ask questions and seek clear guidance on applying directly to the programme. Click here to re-watch the session.
MLA Template Letter for Individuals, 25th May 2020
In response to suggestions on what more can be done to financially support our artists, we created a suggested template for Members to personalise and submit to their local MLA. Click here to view the suggested template letter for individual artists. The link will also bring you to easy to access email contact details for MLA’s.
Covid-19 Resource Page, 25th May 2020
Theatre and Dance NI are aware that during this current health crisis there has been information and updates shared constantly which can get confusing and overwhelming. We have created a ‘Covid-19 Resource’ section on our website where members and artists within the sector can find relevant information, links and resources relating to Covid-19 and how this might impact you. This is updated regularly. Click here to view.
Our Executive Director, Niamh Flanagan took part in a media interview with other sector members for the Belfast Telegraph. The piece is available to read here. The need for further and appropriate government support for the sector, particularly our freelancers working across the performing arts sector was highlighted again in a BBC News online article which is available to read here. More recently, Niamh took part in a discussion on BBC Evening Extra which is available here. (1 hour, 29 minute mark)
Niamh has also taken part in the Craic Theatre Podcast. It’s great to hear all the stories of people from our sector. You can listen here