Budget 2021: Ministers Martin and Chambers Announce Strong Suite of Support Measures for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media

The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, and Minister of State, Jack Chambers TD, announced details of €1,081,818 gross funding allocated to the Department in Budget 2021, covering a range of robust new funding streams and measures to ensure the survival and recovery of businesses and operations in sectors overseen by the Department.

Here is a summary of key highlights and a breakdown of supports announced for the Arts, Culture and Media sectors. Full details on supports offered for Tourism, Sport and the Gaeltacht are available on gov.ie.

  • Hospitality, accommodation and arts businesses impacted by pandemic can get rebates of up to €5,000 a week under new Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS)
  • New €50m support for live entertainment – a range of supports for live entertainment events to take place in 2021 in venues across the country, other measures to support music, and a new grant scheme for equipment
  • €130m for the Arts Council – a record level
  • Over €78m funding allocation for Gaeltacht and Irish language sector – up €14.8m on initial 2020 allocation    
  • Funding for TG4 up to €40.733m

Minister Catherine Martin said: “The diverse range of sectors served by this Department have been amongst those most severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Employing many hundreds of thousands of our fellow-citizens, right across the country, these are the sectors that thrive when people congregate to enjoy their leisure time together. They were the first to close as a result of the pandemic, and they are likely to be amongst the last to return to full operations in the future. Our Cultural Institutions and theatres, our tourism destinations, pubs and restaurants, our sporting occasions and our Gaeltacht communities have all been severely hit since March. Many are shut, or are hugely curtailed, yet these activities are the very ones which bring us all joy, and which are crucial for all our physical and mental health.

“This Budget has now put in place a number of substantial measures to support and strengthen these sectors through 2021.

“Of course, we have been in constant dialogue with stakeholders and sectoral representatives throughout the crisis. Together with my officials, I have set up a number of different engagement channels, to ensure that we, as policy-makers, are listening closely to the voice of the cultural practitioner, the hospitality business-owner, the sporting bodies and our Gaeltacht communities.  A wide range of targeted and imaginative government supports put in place since March have drawn on this interaction, and have helped sustain activity and employment in these sectors.  (Full details are in Appendix.)

“Budget 2021 has been informed by this ongoing strong engagement between my Department and the sectoral representatives.  The strong suite of significant measures detailed below is a robust and targeted response to this crisis; it will support resilience and recovery, and will ensure that Ireland will thrive once more on the global stage in the fields of tourism, culture, sport and linguistic heritage, of which we are so proud.

“These are sector-specific measures, and are of course augmented and supplemented by the economy-wide business support and social welfare measures which were announced in the budget, and which my Cabinet colleagues, including Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, have already gone into further detail.”

Culture and Arts

Objective: To promote and develop Ireland’s world-class artistic and creative strengths at home and abroad, maximising their societal, economic and reputational value for the country

Budget 2021 – Culture and Arts Highlights:

  • New €50m support for live entertainment.  This will see a range of supports for live entertainment events to take place in 2021 in venues across the country, other measures to support music, as well as a new grant scheme for  equipment
  • Record level of funding for the Arts Council of €130m
  • A €9m increase in funding for Screen Ireland from its initial 2020 allocation to over €30m
  • €8m to provide for the transfer of the National Symphony Orchestra to the National Concert Hall

Minister Martin reported that total funding for the culture sector will increase in 2021 by 70% compared with the initial 2020 allocation in Budget 2020.  The funding will comprise €270m in current expenditure and €60.7m in capital investment, and reflects an acknowledgement by Government of the devastating impact that COVID-19 restrictions have had on the sector.

For the first time, the Government provides support for live entertainment in the amount of €50m.  This will include measures for the commercial entertainment sector for the first time, and will support live entertainment in venues across the country, building on the Stimulus scheme announced in July.  It will also see support for activities at community level leading to greater work opportunities for crew and venue workers nationwide.  There will be further supports for music, building on the phenomenal demand for support under the July stimulus Music Scheme operated by First Music Contact.  A scheme of capital grants for equipment will also operate in 2021.  Combined with measures announced by the Minister for Finance, this will provide additional supports to a sector severely impacted by COVID-19.

Arts Council funding is up €50m from its initial 2020 allocation to €130m.  This additional investment empowers the Arts Council to help artists, arts workers and arts organisations come through this crisis and play their part in the national recovery.  It will ensure that events of the highest quality across all art forms can still reach the public in new and blended ways.  This support will protect jobs and it will see thousands of artists enabled to create new work.  This year, the Arts Council is providing support to a wider range of stakeholders impacted by the Pandemic.  This increase in funding will allow the Arts Council to broaden its reach further and in particular to reach out to workers in the sector, especially those who would not previously have been beneficiaries of support from the Arts Council. 

An allocation of €8m is made to the National Concert Hall to allow for the transfer of the National Symphony Orchestra from RTÉ.  This will be a significant step towards the objective of enabling the orchestra to be established as a world class orchestra which will, with the NCH, provide a creative and imaginative programme strategy that will greatly enhance the offering of the combined organisation to the public.

Screen Ireland’s funding will increase by €9m to €30.1m in 2021. The audiovisual industry has been one of the success stories of 2020, with on-screen success in the form of Normal People, but also its track record in maintaining output in the face of COVID-19.  This record allocation will further support Screen Ireland at this critical time. In addition, the extension of the Section 481 regional uplift for an additional year is an important support and will further assist growth in the industry.

Additional capital funding will see progress in the ongoing programme of investment in our capital institutions including at the National Library of Ireland, the National Archives of Ireland and the Crawford Art Gallery. 

Decade of Centenaries increased funding to €5m to allow for the appropriate commemoration of the centenary of events leading to the foundation of the State.

Minister Martin said: “100 years on from those events, I am pleased the Government has, in difficult circumstances, kept faith with our artists and creative communities upon whom we rely so much to sustain us through the greatest challenge of our generation. 

I am confident that these measures will mean enhanced opportunities for everyone to experience the benefits of our artistic and cultural offerings in the widest sense in 2021.”

Broadcasting and Media

Objective: Setting a Strategic Direction for Public Service Broadcasting and other Media

Budget 2021 – Broadcasting and Media Highlights:

  • Funding for TG4 up €3.5m to €40.733m
  • Transfer of National Symphony Orchestra from RTE to National Concert Hall

Minister Martin reported that Funding to TG4 is being increased by €3.5m (including €1m capital) to bring it up to its recommended level of funding of €40.733m.

She said: “With both the culture and broadcasting and media sectors now part of my brief, I am pleased that my announcement of the transfer of the National Symphony Orchestra to the National Concert Hall will greatly benefit RTE.

“I recently established the Future of Media Commission jointly with the Taoiseach, which will report to Government on the vision for public service media, and how to ensure a vibrant, sustainable, independent, public service media in the future.”

Funding is also being provided to meet the Government’s North South commitments under New Decade New Approach.  €1m will be available for the Irish language Broadcasting Fund in Northern Ireland for content creation.  The provision also includes €100k for RTE and €100K for TG4 for promotion of Irish language broadcasting.  

And €839K will be available to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland in respect of the waiver of the broadcasting levy for the independent radio sector earlier in the year.

Minister Martin concluded by saying:  “We are indeed living through what is the worst pandemic in a century. But we must build a stronger country, be resilient and stand by our very sectors that have produced success, talent and given us inspiration in previous recessions. I hope that my department’s measures across sectors will build a bridge into 2021 and beyond, as part of a recovery, as part of a future that overcomes the impacts of the virus.     


Government Support Measures put in place since March 2020, by sector

Culture and Arts

  • An additional €25m for the Arts Council
  • A €5m Live Events Pilot Grant Scheme
  • €5m to support the National Cultural Institutions and nationwide arts infrastructure
  • Bursaries for Gaeltacht artists to a total value of €250,000


  • Waiver of broadcasting levy for independent radio sector for first half 2020, worth €1m to sector
  • COVID-19-related round of Sound and Vision Scheme for commercial radio sector
  • €750,000 Sound and Vision round for community radio
  • Additional €2m in July Stimulus for Sound and Vision

Plus – Universal supports

  • The universal income supports of PUP and the wage subsidy scheme have been key to supporting to all sectors thorough this crisis; the extension of both of these schemes has provided some much needed certainty.

Source: Screen Ireland; News