AIST Hardship fund

AIST Hardship fund – Round 1

The AIST invites applications for the Hardship Fund, from midday on the 25th of September 2020.

The first round will disburse €100,000 at up to a maximum of €500 per applicant.

Applications received before midday on the 25th of September 2020 will not be valid and will not be retained.

The AIST Hardship Fund is open to all crew and production staff in the live event, arts, and entertainment industry in the Republic of Ireland. It is not restricted to members of the AIST. The fund is not open to students.

Applications are strictly confidential and will be processed by a small panel, who, themselves, are not eligible to apply to the fund for assistance. At least one of the panel will be a current member of the board of the AIST, other panellists may be from other facets of the industry.

Applicants who meet the criteria will be awarded a sum up to a maximum of €500. Awards will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis; there will be no assessment of need, beyond the requirement to meet the minimum criteria. Awards will be distributed until the allocation of funds are depleted for that round. Applications will not be held over from one round to another. Successful applicants will not be considered again for 12 months.

Applications must be sent via email only to aistfund@gmail.com. An automatic reply will be sent to acknowledge receipt. The time and date of the applicant’s email, will dictate order of processing. The time and date of the email, must be within the advertised window for applications, to be considered. To protect the confidentiality of the process, no other forms of communication will be entertained. An automatic email reply will be sent, if an application is submitted outside of an advertised window, stating that the application is not eligible and won’t be retained.

To comply with governance, transparency and C.J.A. money laundering rules, all funds will be distributed by electronic bank transfer, and only to bank accounts held within the Republic of Ireland. It should be noted, that awards may be subject to income tax, depending on the individual’s tax credits, and should be declared by the applicant.

Applicants will be required to meet the following minimum criteria:

  1. Applicant must be resident in the ROI and have a ROI bank account.
  2. Applicant must work primarily in a production or crew position in the live event, arts or entertainment industry.
  3. Applicant must have lost work, and provide evidence of such.

Information requested for processing, should be included in the email application: (All information submitted is strictly confidential)

  • Name
  • Email Address
  • Phone Number
  • Address (Proof of address may be requested during processing)
  • Profession* (Some evidence of work history may be required during processing)
  • Award amount requested (up to a maximum of €500)
  • Details of Lost Work*
  • Evidence of Lost Work (copies and screen grabs of text or social media messages, emails or letters are acceptable)
  • Total loss of earnings*
  • IBAN

* Information collected for reporting purposes, any reporting will be anonymised.

Questions and Answers

There have been some questions raised on social media regarding the fund, see below for answers from the AIST.

To the question of the long-term potential for the fund. We wholeheartedly agree that the fund would be, not only valid but an essential facility to have in the long term. Unfortunately, there will always be people who fall victim to long term illness, life-changing injury or severe mental illness which remove them from our workforce. While no one is pretending that the hardship fund will be able to sustain such individuals for the remainder of their lives. It may be able to help at times of crisis, and for needs like having to modify a living space for special access requirements. However all that said, we don’t feel it is appropriate to hold back substantial amounts of the money raised recently to seed a long term fund. There will be other opportunities for fundraising and sponsorship in the future. We have no doubt that such a future long term fund can be financed once established. 

As to the questions regarding distribution of the fund via a “first come” basis over a “most need” basis; and also to address the choice of €500 as a limit. It is with no pleasure, that we had to acknowledge the deep need throughout our industry at the moment. The majority of workers are without any working income and are relying on social welfare payments, savings and the generosity of friends and family. The numbers are truly frightening. The limit was set to attempt to reach as far as possible across the community. The most conservative estimates sit at about 3500 full time, and 15,000 part-time workers. At €500 euro per disbursement, the funds raised will be able to help approximately 400 people, which is about 2% of the workforce. The fund was never going to replace incomes, it was never going to be possible to clear large bills. No fund has the resources to try and do that when so many people are involved. Only state aid can sustain the workforce through this time of financial crisis. But there are going to be some for which the financial problems will become critical. With the return to school, followed by the expectations of Christmas,  with other seasonal and family events in between; people who are managing to scrape things together can be tipped over the edge. Some small respite in the form of a few hundred euro can make the difference. While obviously more money to each applicant would make more difference, it would greatly reduce the numbers who can benefit. 

The administration of the fund is obviously a process which needs to be well-governed and extremely transparent. It also is essential that the dignity and confidentially of the applications is maintained. To this end, an extremely simple model works best. Assessment of need is a complicated process, requiring a lot of time spent dealing with each applicant, checking evidence and verification. It is a very invasive process for already vulnerable individuals. It would be unfair to ask industry volunteers to carry out this process on their peers; both to the volunteers and the applicant. The only option would be to get an independent assessment carried out. Such independent outsourced assessment would be expensive, in fact, it would cost more to assess each case than the amount actually being paid out to the case. Can we say that everyone who applies is going to have the same level of need? Of course not. Can we say that there will be no abuse of the fund? Unfortunately no, however even with need assessment in place, there still could be abuse. No system will be perfect, but given the funds available, resources at our disposal and voluntary nature of the association, we feel this is the most likely system to achieve the best results. 

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