Street performers say the show can't go on if insurance premiums keep soaring
Street artists say they may have to stop performing due to soaring insurance costs.
The Irish Street Arts, Circus and Spectacle Network (ISACS) says this year its member groups are being hit with rises as high as 400pc in premiums to cover artists that perform at festivals.
The organisation has called for more urgency from the Government for its planned reforms of the insurance sector.
ISACS represents acrobats, stilt-walkers, wire walkers and circus entertainers. The network's chief executive, Lucy Medlycott, said there were close to 5,000 of these performers, in what is a relatively new art form for Ireland.
Some 90 different groups make up the network, including Macnas in Galway and the Spraoi International Street Arts Festival in Waterford.
But surging public liability insurance premiums are threatening the viability of the sector, a move that will hit festivals and tourism hard.
One member group has seen its insurance premium jump from €4,400 last year to €18,950 this year, a rise of 430pc. Ms Medlycott said this was despite the group not having any claims.
There is only one insurer here specialising in cover for street performers and only one underwriter, a London-based Lloyd's name. Any activity that sees people being more than 1.5 metres off the ground means it is very difficult to get insurance cover, she said.
"These insurance rises will close down the sector, because no group can afford these sorts of premiums," Ms Medlycott said. "The insurance issue is putting the kibosh on the sector. If we can't get cover, then the impact for festivals, for tourism and the economy will be huge," she said.
Insurers told her they have had large increases in claims from Ireland over the last few years as well as a huge increase in the amounts at which they are being settled.
"I was advised by one insurer that they have seen five times more claims, costing five times more than in previous times."
Asked about across-the-board hikes in public liability cover costs, Insurance Ireland blamed personal injury claims inflation.
Junior finance minister Michael D'Arcy, who heads up the Government's insurance taskforce, insisted insurance reform was a Government priority.