Committee report calls for culture to be embedded at the heart of Government and for the State to acknowledge the rights of artists at the heart of policy

The Government should establish a Department of Culture with responsibility for Arts, Heritage, Film, Broadcasting, Gaeltacht and Sport and each Government Department should create a cultural statement and action plan setting out their understanding of their contribution to arts, culture and heritage, according to a Report on Culture 2025 from the Committee on Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs.

19 July 2017

Among the 40 proposals contained in the report, the Committee recommends laying out a framework for the entire sector that identifies the strengths, weaknesses and shortfalls in the current structure of the cultural sector, and is built on the cultural rights of citizens and the production and property rights of artists, and that these rights be enshrined in Bunreacht na hÉireann and in legislation.  It also proposes that the current legislation governing the arts sector be comprehensively reviewed and that new legislation be introduced as necessary.   

The Committee recommends that specific and meaningful commitments should be given regarding funding over the course of the National Cultural Policy and advises that a comprehensive study of funding available for the cultural sector and creative industries be undertaken, including the consideration of new funding models.

Among the report’s key recommendations are:

•    That the Government should establish a Department of Culture.
•    That the Government establish a Senior Officials Group, led by the Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach, comprising senior civil servants from each relevant Department.  Develop clear processes and procedures for cross-Departmental co-operation on arts, culture and heritage projects.
•    That each Government Department publish a statement and action plan on arts, culture and heritage that clearly outlines its understanding of its cultural remit and the impact of its actions on the arts, culture and heritage sectors and which also identifies areas and processes for immediate action and co-operation.
•    That the Minister commission an independent, international curator to organise an international conference on the role and value of arts, culture and heritage in the 21st Century.
•    That the Minister commission an independent, international curator to organise an international conference on the role and value of arts, culture and heritage in the 21st Century.
•    That the Minister establish precisely how much is invested directly by the Government in arts, culture and heritage, and through which channels and Government Departments it is invested, to allow for accurate international benchmarking.
•    That the Government give a commitment to match the European Union average of an investment of 0.6% of Gross Domestic Product in the arts, culture and heritage sectors by the midpoint of the Culture 2025 strategy.  
•    That the Minister ask the Minister for Finance to design and implement a foreign artists’ withholding tax scheme.
•    That the Minister, in co-operation with her counterpart in the Northern Ireland Assembly establish a committee of representatives from relevant agencies and Government Departments from both jurisdictions in Ireland to work towards better co-operation in terms of project co-ordination and the strategic development of arts, culture and heritage policy.
•    That the Minister commission an independent, international curator to organise an international conference on the role and value of arts, culture and heritage in the 21st Century.
•    That the Minister review all existing legislation pertaining to arts, culture and heritage and all existing agencies operating in these sectors to ensure their relevance and fitness for purpose and to avoid overlap or duplication.
•    That the Minister introduce legislation: to vindicate the right of every citizen to cultural expression and cultural access; to vindicate the right to pursue a creative / artistic career without institutional discrimination; to ensure that artists are placed in a better position relative to the industry when concluding contracts, to ensure fair compensation for creative content that truly respects the creators for their work; to protect the Cultural Rights of the Child; and to amend the Arts Act to include Artists and Cultural Rights.
•    That the Government initiate a referendum to insert a specific and direct reference to arts, culture and heritage in Bunreacht na hÉireann that would articulate, acknowledge and champion the role and value of arts, culture and heritage in Irish society.
•    That the Minister, in conjunction with the Minister for Education and Skills, enhance the powers and membership of the High Level Implementation Group that oversees the implementation of the Arts in Education Charter and invite representation from community, youth and other informal arts contexts.
•    That the Minister ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to establish a Youth Arts Advisory group drawn from young people aged from 14 to 21 years of age.
•    That the Minister consider extending the timeframe of Culture 2025 to take the development period into account.  As we are already two years into the policy, it may be more appropriate to set a ten year period of 2018 – 2028.
 
Cathaoirleach of the Committee Peadar Tóibín said: “Culture 2025 – Éire Ildánach: A Framework Policy to 2025 (Culture 2025) is Ireland’s first National Cultural Policy. The aim of Culture 2025 is to provide a clear vision, strong foundation and policy framework for the continued vitality, development and viability of Irish arts, culture and heritage up to 2025.  In light of this, the Joint Committee for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs has considered the Culture 2025 draft report and has consulted with the relevant stakeholders involved.

The Committee recommends seizing the opportunity to acknowledge that arts, culture and heritage are at the heart of Irish society.  In order to do so, arts, culture and heritage must be embedded at the heart of Government. A key proposal from the Committee is that a Department of Culture be established and that each Government Department creates a cultural statement and action plan for arts, culture and heritage.

This comprehensive report sets out more than 40 proposals the Joint Committee hopes that the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs will consider them and include as many of them as possible in Culture 2025. We are now calling on the Minister to study this report, and in particular the 42 recommendations the Joint Committee has put forward.  The Joint Committee looks forward to engaging with the Minister on this subject in the near future.

Finally, I wish to acknowledge and thank An Seanadóir Fintan Warfield who prepared the original Rapporteur’s Report on which this Report is based.”  

Senator Fintan Warfield said: “Culture 2025 is an historic opportunity and should embed – at the highest levels of Government – the understanding that cultural value is primarily intrinsic and that the intrinsic value manifests itself instrumentally in terms of well-being, creativity, innovation, enterprise, jobs, income, wealth, health, welfare, social capital, tourism, foreign-direct-investment, and more.

Culture 2025 should be built on the honest acceptance that the current structures and attitudes, developed piece-meal and over many years, are not adequately integrated, have not served us well, and may no longer be fit-for-purpose. It should build on the best that we have achieved, and in order to do this we must acknowledge that not only will the State and its agencies have to change, but the sector itself will have to play its part if we are to achieve a meaningful co-operation over the next 10 years.  

This response to the framework document builds on the strengths of Culture 2025 and aligns those strengths with the strengths, concerns, and ideas expressed by the various stakeholders in their submissions to the Joint Committee for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.  It proposes necessary alterations to the framework document before it can move to final draft, and suggests an implementation plan.”

Read the report here.


Committee Membership:

Deputies

Peadar Tóibín (Chairman)    Sinn Féin
Ciaran Cannon            Fine Gael
Michael Collins            Rural Independents Group
Danny Healy Rae        Rural Independents Group
Martin Heydon            Fine Gael
Éamon Ó Cuív            Fianna Fáil
Niamh Smyth            Fianna Fáil

Senators

Maura Hopkins            Fine Gael
Marie-Louise O’Donnell        Independent
Aodhán Ó Ríordáin        Labour
Fintan Warfield            Sinn Féin