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'I've become Del Boy to earn some cash' - tenor Paul

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Irish tenor Paul Byrom and his dog Bradley

Irish tenor Paul Byrom and his dog Bradley

Irish tenor Paul Byrom and his dog Bradley

For an industry that has been left on its knees by the crisis, those working in the arts and music sector have warmly welcomed news of the €130m funding for the Arts Council.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe's announcement that the self-employed can also delay paying their 2019 tax and 2020 preliminary tax for a year - without interest or penalties -comes as a huge relief to those who had been fretting about the looming deadline.

Irish tenor Paul Byrom (41) said that for him, the crisis has been an "unmitigated disaster" and extending the deadline without having to pay penalties was "fantastic".

Benefit

He will also benefit from the new increase in the self-employed tax credit by a further €150 to €1,650, bringing it in line with the PAYE allowance.

Byrom was in the middle of a US tour when the pandemic hit in March and he had to fly back to Ireland.

"For me, March in America is my biggest money of the year. I had just spent €6,000 on a new visa and I had a month of gigs lined up when I had to pull it all," he said.

"Thankfully, none of the fans over there were looking for money back, they were happy to postpone the dates.

"So a huge portion of my income was gone, wiped out. March would fund an awful lot of my year. You also get out again in the summer and the autumn and then you'd have your panto. It's all gone.

"All of a sudden, you've had to put a line through the whole of 2020. The best analogy I could use is that we're all in the same storm but in different boats and the music industry is one sector that's been left at sea."

Byrom has had to diversify to try to bring in some revenue, including doing some online concerts and selling merchandise on his website.

He is also in the final stages of bringing out a new album, but says that "nothing is paying the bills" for this year when it comes to revenue.

"It's been a race against time to get the album done. It's on pre-order now, but if we go up to Level 5, I have to accept that it's not happening," he said.

"For the first time ever, I've got a shop on the website because I've had to think outside the box - what can I do to generate money? I've got my whole back catalogue on the website now.

Hoodies

"I'm selling hoodies and T-shirts - I've turned into a Del Boy."

The panto season was also highly lucrative, but that is gone as well.

"I'm fortunate in that I'm not solely depending on that, but for many musicians, performers, dancers and producers and sound technicians, the panto season is a golden egg," Byrom said.

"How are they supposed to pay their bills? The PUP is great, but that's not going to even pay your rent."

However, he feels he has been thrown a lifeline with the Budget announcement about extending the deadline to pay tax bills, having not earned properly for most of this year.