A New Year Message from WGI Director Hugh Farley Director

6th January 2021 by admin

Reasons To Be Cheerful…

A very happy New Year to all our members across the country. Though the return to severe Coronavirus restrictions doesn’t exactly infuse the usual sense of joy, I am optimistic that 2021 will prove to be something of a watershed year for professional writers.

The upside of the pandemic was an unprecedented focus on development with more money available to option or commission scripts. WGI won an additional €100,000 of support for writers from SI in measures announced to offset the economic impact of the virus in 2020. Not to mention the increase in indirect funding through supports from producers and directors to commission or option new work. We will be campaigning to ensure that as many of these new works can continue to be supported through to production and to copper fasten development funding in 2021.

There is an increased appetite for cooperation and consensus-building within our sector that is most welcome. For example, Screen Ireland is formulating its three-year policy at present. They have retained Crowe Howarth as external consultants who are launching a major round of consultation with stakeholders throughout the industry. I would urge you to make your voice heard either through individual submissions or as part of a sectoral panel.

RTE and TG4 took the initiative to convene a sectoral group which comprises Animation Ireland, Screen Producers Ireland, Screen Directors Guild of Ireland and ourselves. Economics thinktank Indecon was commissioned to write a report setting out the case for a new levy on external media suppliers such as the streamers and Sky (provided for in the EU AVMS directive) that could net a significant amount of new money to invest in the development and production of new TV drama. WGI’s participation in the group ensured that support for writers would be embedded in the scheme. That report has now gone to government and will need vigorous campaigning over the next 18 months to see that the proposals are framed in new legislation.

Other reasons to be cheerful are legislative changes that can only improve the lot of the working writer. The transposition of the European Copyright Directive into Irish law (expected by July) will ensure that producers must provide accurate annualised statements to writers detailing the sales achieved on each production to which they have participated in.  If it has performed unexpectedly well the writer may be entitled to additional ‘fair and proportionate remuneration’.

The European Competition Directorate intends to enact legislation within the next year or so that will allow guilds to collectively bargain on behalf of members (currently prohibited) which will enable us to be able fight more effectively for your rights.

Finally, and most excitingly, we have received some new funding from the Arts Council which will enable us to overhaul our website, newsletter and overall online communications. We’re committed to bringing you a lot more content news, interviews and practical information that will enable you to navigate your career more effectively. You’ll be  hearing about more online seminars, networking opportunities and simply social online meet ups, starting with a session with Screen Ireland’s project managers coming soon.

So, raise a glass, writers. Blue skies are on the way.

Cheers,

Hugh Farley
Director

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