Tough year ahead as financial issues take a toll on mental health and wellbeing 

Many of those working in Ireland’s creative industry are still in crisis mode financially as the sector starts to reopen after a tough 19 months of restrictions.

One of Ireland’s leading voices in the Irish music scene is calling on those working in the sector – both artists and event personnel  — to plan for their financial future.

Minding Creative Minds Director Kim O’Callaghan says that while the arts industry is opening up, there is still much uncertainty and challenging times ahead.

She spoke ahead of a masterclass on personal finance for the creative industry to be held on September 20 as part of the first day of Ireland’s annual Pension Awareness Week.

“We need to help people out of crisis mode. Many in the creative sector – not just artists — will have been surviving on PUP payments which are now being cut and, while it might not seem like a lot for some people, it could make or break others. Financial issues are also impacting on overall wellness and taking a toll on people’s mental health,” she says.

Kim O’Callaghan is a project manager and deputy event controller for MCD’s Slane, Corke Park, RDS, Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Aviva shows. She is a Director of Minding Creative Minds, an organisation established to offer a free wellbeing and support programme for the Irish creative industry.

She is also on two working groups – EPIC and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media Live Entertainment Working Group — established to assist the performance industries impacted as a result of Covid-19.

Kim O’Callaghan spoke ahead of ‘Creative with Money’ [view session], a masterclass on personal finance for the creative sector in association with Minding Creative Minds. Chaired by Hot Press Deputy Editor Stuart Clark, ‘Creative with Money’ will feature industry insiders and financial professionals – including Barry Downes of Livewire Business Management and Olive Ryan of — to help creatives understand the impact the last 18 months has had on their personal finances and how they can stabilise and improve their situation.

Kim O’Callahan says:

“As the industry starts to open up, many will be facing financial challenges in both their personal and business lives. Even those who are good with money and were saving for a rainy day would not have expected that rainy day to continue for up to two years. Many who work in the outdoor sector might not have worked since the summer of 2019 and may not end up working until the summer of 2022.

“People should not feel bad; it’s not their fault. They were caught completely off guard. Even those who have saved will have used all their savings and need help and support to re-plan. It has been tough even for successful business and many are just trying to keep their heads above water. While many are still just trying to get out of crisis mode, we need to plant the seed for planning for the future so if they are out of work for another other reason in the future, they are prepared.”

Kim urged those in difficulty to contact Minding Creative Minds where they can access free business, personal and wellbeing advice. She also noted that the A.I.S.T Hardship Fund – open to all crew and production staff in the live event, arts and entertainment industry – is opening a new round on September 13.

Hotpress Deputy Editor, Stuart Clark, who is chairing the ‘Creative with Money’, Masterclass on September 20 says:

 “As soon as someone starts playing music or being creative, they need to have a plan for the financial side of their business. It’s not the most rock and roll thing in the world but I’ve seen the most outrageous punk rock bands being really savvy with spreadsheets.

“In the last 18 months, a bomb has gone off in the music industry and everything we took for granted was thrown up in the air. For most artists and crew working in the sector, things have been meagre and the dual issues of Brexit and Covid-19 have placed unprecedented pressures on everyone in the business. We spun off axis and it’s going to take time to recalibrate. The next year is going to continue to be bumpy but the pain will ease.

“Some artists had to take jobs elsewhere and are now trying to ease themselves back into the industry so good practical advice on everything from buying equipment to how to deal with taxes and record deals. The one good thing to come out of this is that the industry has pulled together and fostered a sense of community.”’s co-founder and head of financial advice, Ralph Benson, says:

“We’ve focused on people in the creative sector because we know they need help to rethink and take back control of their finances after such a difficult year.  Pensions Awareness Week is all about practical steps you can take to help yourself.  This masterclass will offer lots of ideas on how people working in the arts can use pensions and other financial tools to rebuild over the coming months”.