Irish Equity and the Musicians Union of Ireland (MUI) have welcomed the proposed social protection measures for professional performing artists which were announced by the Government today (5th July. According to SIPTU Services Division Organiser, Karan O’Loughlin, the new measures will provide significant social protection to professional performing artists including actors, musicians, dancers, street and circus performers. “Following a review of the pilot social protection scheme for writers and visual artists, the Government has announced its extension to professional performing artists. The extension of the scheme will now see the inclusion of actors, musicians, street performers, dancers and circus artists whose professional status will be designated by the fact that a minimum of 50% of their income is generated through their professional work. For the first time, this now also includes teaching within their profession,” Karan O’Loughlin said. “Certification as a professional, for the purposes of access to the scheme, will be through Irish Equity and the MUI. This scheme will give professional performing artists a 12-month window during which time they can continue to claim social welfare entitlements without a requirement to attend repeated interviews with case officers. Irish Equity and MUI have been lobbying for a considerable time to have such increased social protections for performing artists.” She added: “This is a positive step forward on the path to recognition of the professional status and value of performing artists in Ireland. Owever,  However, we also need a broader discussion about the working lives of artists and their capacity to have longevity and dignity in their careers. The way to truly value artists is to ensure they can make a secure living from their work and that means the development of a basic income scheme for them.” Graham Macken, MUI Organiser, said: “This is a significant breakthrough for musicians. The Theatre Forum survey published earlier this year clearly demonstrated the shockingly low pay and impoverished conditions endured by artists. This is not sustainable, particularly for a country with our rich cultural contribution and history. We have to continue to fight to have our artists valued in a meaningful way.”