Saturday 16 February 2019

Funding a bum note for struggling musicians

Balancing act: Singer-songwriter Niall Thomas at his music school.
Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Balancing act: Singer-songwriter Niall Thomas at his music school. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Conor McCrave

Conor McCrave

MUSICIANS feel forgotten in the allocation of arts funding in this year's Budget, despite a wealth of musical talent on the island.

An additional 10pc top-up was announced for Arts Council funding, as well as additional funding and corporation tax credits for the Irish Film industry.

However, musicians who cannot access either of these have said the Budget failed to support and promote them.

"They could have given a grant towards musicians, or a tax break towards musicians as the current artist exemption is very hard to get," singer-songwriter Niall Thomas said.

"I think there is a wealth of talent across the board and it's falling down in terms of promotion."

The Dublin native, who runs a music school to offset some of the cost of being a self-funded musician, said it was a gamble for many who chose to pursue that type of career.

"You're taking a chance every time you put on a show. Your overheads are the venues you play, the musicians you play with, and the PR, but you have no guaranteed return so it's always a gamble.

"I've two kids and a partner and I'm 40," he said. "And there is the stress and worry whether it will work out.

"In terms of finances, you're trying to balance your living costs with trying to put money into finalising your artistic endeavours. It's a constant balance of paying bills and looking after that side of things."

Mr Thomas said the Government's failure to back the vast amounts of musical talent within the Budget highlighted an out-of-touch approach.

"The amount of songwriters and musicians lauded as being fantastic, but we can't seem to get them off the island. We could be doing more to promote our own artists.

"The Budget didn't really help at all really in terms of music."

Irish Independent

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