Irish fashion designers refuse to be excluded from the Artist Income Scheme

Irish fashion designers have accused Arts Secretary Catherine Martin of unfairly tailoring their clothes by excluding them from the new Arts Basic Income.

The Council of Irish Fashion Designers (CIFD) has strongly objected to the “specific exclusion of independent Irish fashion designers, including milliners, jewelery and accessory designers, from the State Basic Income for the Arts while costume designers in film or opera and street and circus performers qualify”.

“Independent Irish designers are also jugglers, trying to balance recovery from a series of devastating lockdowns with escalating costs for their creative businesses,” the CIFD – which has more than 40 members – said in a statement.

The Council warned that “this travesty will result in Ireland again exporting more highly qualified fashion design graduates as fashion collections for the benefit of other economies”.

Many Irish fashion designers have featured their work in museums, exhibitions and collections around the world as a recognition of their craftsmanship. Among them are Helen Hayes and Leonora Ferguson, whose collaborations with glassmaker Laura Quinn were featured at the Biot International Glass Festival in September.

“There is no justification for this decision,” said CIFD Chairman Eddie Shanahan.

“Leonora Ferguson’s work has been shown at Madame Tussauds and the Victoria and Albert Museum. If Leonora calls herself a costume designer, she gets the money; when she calls herself a dress designer and milliner, she doesn’t,” he said.

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“Hazel Green paints by hand on silk, but she could use the scheme when painting on canvas.

“Designers are absolutely baffled by this decision – and there are only two reasons we weren’t considered: one is a lack of empathy with us; and the other is that we don’t know anything about our work.”

CIFD members say the evidence of Irish fashion artistry is hardly new. They point to legendary Dublin-based couturier Sybil Connolly, whose fashion legacy is internationally recognized. It was further confirmed in 2017 when the Museum of Modern Art in New York selected the Aran sweater as one of the most iconic fashion garments in the world. Irish fashion designers refuse to be excluded from the Artist Income Scheme

Fry Electronics Team

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