Philanthropy and the Arts: Statements

Ireland is one of the great philanthropic countries of the world. It is a core characteristic of ours, and one that we rate highly, that we take an interest in others and that we support their work and efforts through the donation of our time or our money. Today, it is estimated that total philanthropic income in Ireland is in excess of €500 million annually. This is a sizeable amount for a country of our size but the arts sector in Ireland receives only approximately 0.6% of this amount.

Income from philanthropy for arts organisations in Ireland makes up only 3% of their total income. This is less than half the proportion of philanthropic sponsorship in other countries like the United Kingdom and United States, which have a more highly developed approach to philanthropic support for arts and culture. It is clearly the case, therefore, that while philanthropy in general is reasonably well developed in Ireland, this is not the case in the arts and culture sector. Philanthropy for arts and culture is underdeveloped in Ireland compared with other sectors and other countries, and this is an issue which I have set out to address as Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

The programme for Government agreed between the two parties gives a clear commitment on this point. The programme states, "We will work with stakeholders in the Arts community to develop new proposals aimed at building private support of the Arts in Ireland exploring philanthropic, sponsorship or endowment fund opportunities." It is unfortunately the case, however, that today's obvious constraints on the taxpayer mean we have to look for innovative ways to address funding issues.

This year, I have allocated more than €63 million to the Arts Council in direct support. However, it is abundantly clear that the pressure on funding that my Department faces for 2013 will have an impact here and across all funding priorities of my Department. Therefore, at a time when taxpayer funding to arts and culture is under pressure and decreasing, it is more important than ever that organisations seek to tap whatever reserves of private support may be in place for funding.

Our new focus on philanthropy is also one which sees philanthropy as a mainstay of arts and culture funding for the years and decades ahead, even when State funding to arts and culture begins to increase again at some point in the future. Philanthropy has a long-term positive impact, and instilling a new culture of philanthropy in Irish arts and culture will be of manifest benefit for the future vitality of the sector. We need to develop our fund-raising skills and capacity right across the sector. To do this we need to learn from those who do it best.

My vision of philanthropy is also not one where one size fits all. It is not about saying there is a single approach which works for everyone. As Minister, I have supported two specific initiatives to increase philanthropy in our arts and culture sector, schemes which reflect that different organisations can benefit from different supports on this issue.

The first of these is the philanthropy leverage initiative, managed by my Department and designed to reward smaller projects across the arts and cultural spectrum that can leverage funding from private sources. The second is the Arts Council's RAISE: Building Fund-raising Capacity, designed to build capacity in selected organisations to raise money, not just on a once-off basis but over time, building deeper funding relationships with private sponsors.

In May 2012, I launched the philanthropy leverage initiative. This initiative is designed to encourage philanthropic sponsorship and endowment funding of the arts from private sources. The initiative, established with funding of €230,000 for 2012, is managed by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The philanthropy leverage initiative provides an incentive to arts organisations to proactively seek new and multi-annual relationships with sponsors which deliver private sector financial support, thereby increasing overall funding available to the arts. It is available across projects of varying scale, geography and art forms. It is envisaged that this funding will unlock new private sector funding of 2.5 times the State allocation of €230,000, generating total additional funding of €805,000 to the arts in 2012. The pilot initiative will be reviewed at the end of 2012.

Applicants for funding apply to the philanthropy leverage initiative for support in one of four categories, with each category targeting a different multiple of matching funding. An organisation can seek State funding of €5,000 if it can raise €10,000 from new philanthropy, sponsorship or endowment funding, a 2:1 ratio of private to taxpayer funding. However, an organisation can apply for more taxpayer funding - up to €20,000 - if it can raise €100,000 from new philanthropy. More funds are, therefore, available to organisations that can match taxpayer funding with a higher multiple of private support. Funding under this initiative is available to not-for-profit organisations for arts programming projects. To date, organisations that have benefitted from the scheme include Cork Community Art Link, Macnas, the Little Museum of Dublin and the Temple Bar Gallery.

Yesterday I launched a second important development in the areas of the philanthropic support for the arts: the Arts Council's RAISE: Building Fund-raising Capacity pilot initiative. This programme will provide one-to-one professional support to the eight selected organisations for two years through planning and implementing a tailored fund-raising programme. Eight leading Irish arts organisations are aiming to raise €10 million in private funding over the next five years as part of a new Arts Council initiative. The pilot project will place the organisations on a stronger financial footing and mean people throughout the country will be able to experience more high quality performances, exhibitions, film screenings and other arts events. The arts organisations participating in the initial pilot are the Irish Film Institute, the Royal Hibernian Academy, Na Píobairí Uilleann, the Galway Arts Festival, The Model Gallery in Sligo, the National Chamber Choir, Wexford Festival Opera and the Gate Theatre. As part of the selection process, all demonstrated that they have the ambition, potential and commitment to raise more than €250,000 per annum in private investment.

I firmly believe that philanthropy is as beneficial to the donor as to the recipient and should be recognised as such. As someone who has been associated with a range of arts and heritage groups, both giving of my time and helping to raise money, I know the huge personal reward that comes from this commitment. I also know, however, that philanthropy is new territory for many Irish arts organisations. Changing thinking and attitudes is as much a challenge as getting arts organisations confident and willing to take the plunge to go out and seek the support they deserve.

Changing the culture of philanthropy will take time. To help this process of change, I will host an important seminar on the topic "Philanthropy and the Arts" at the Smock Alley Auditorium, Exchange Street Lower, Dublin 8 on 18 October 2012. The conference will feature speakers from key organisations and arts institutions in Ireland. The speakers will outline the positive impact that philanthropy can bring to arts organisations and businesses and the greater associated social benefits it can generate.

Speakers will be drawn from Bank of America, the Ireland Funds, the Forum on Philanthropy and Fundraising, the Arts Council, the Revenue Commissioners, the National Archives, Business to Arts, the Little Museum of Dublin, the Royal Hibernian Academy, Smock Alley and those active in the arts and culture sphere. I hope Deputy Ó Fearghaíl or any other Member of the House might also be able to join me for that event. I hope this conference will be of interest to all participants, both for the philanthropists and for those groups and individuals who are seeking to raise money and obtain support. I look forward to hearing from all sides in this equation, that is, from the corporate givers, the groups that benefit and the organisations that play a strong role in this field. For example, schemes are in place in the Revenue Commissioners to allow tax relief on donations to charities and approved bodies and I hope that a detailed explanation of the schemes currently in place will be useful for all attending. As mentioned, the Arts Council is embarking on a major new programme to build support for philanthropy in the arts sector and will address the conference on this point. Moreover, the Business to Arts organisation will also make a presentation on the day. This is an organisation that has brought innovation to this issue through the development of Fund it, an Ireland-wide initiative that provides a platform for people with great ideas to attract funding from friends, fans and followers across the world.

It is undeniably the case that philanthropy has assumed a greater importance now, given the financial situation my Department faces. However, it is important to remember that philanthropy is not simply about replacing State funding with private support. Instead, it is about a highly ambitious aim for this country to combine the best of US-style philanthropic support with the best of European-style State support. It is not about importing a US model wholesale to Ireland. Over-dependence on philanthropy or the single-source model has been as dangerous to cultural organisations in the United States as over-dependence on State support has been here. The most sustainable model for financing the arts, one that secures both financial and artistic independence, is one in which cultural organisations can count on a plurality and diversity of funding sources.

In closing, I believe it is important to remember that while income is the immediate goal, the gain from philanthropy is not simply monetary. The extensive outreach involved in building a donor base plays a vital social function in society. Building relationships creates communities. It instils ownership and civic pride and galvanizes the power of art to permeate and connect that community. No matter how small or large a donation, a donor automatically becomes a stakeholder and has an interest in the organisation. On this point, I will conclude by reminding Members of the words of David Rockefeller that "Philanthropy is involved with basic innovations that transform society, not simply maintaining the status quo or filling basic social needs that were formerly the province of the public sector". I look forward to this debate and if any good proposals come from my colleagues in this House, I certainly will take them on board.

I am delighted to have the opportunity to participate in this debate. I commend the Minister on his availing of the opportunity to have this important debate. While coming into the Chamber, I wondered whether those with a poetic bent might feel inclined to pick up their pens on the basis that it has taken the flight of the Taoiseach and ten Ministers of the Cabinet from the country to allow an opportunity for such a debate to take place. That said, given this is my first opportunity to engage with the Minister on a serious matter since my appointment as party spokesperson, I commend the Minister on his long-standing contribution to debates in the House on the issue down through the years. I acknowledge the role he played over many years in highlighting the arts in Irish society, not least during his tenure as Opposition spokesperson during the last Dáil. It is good to see someone with the Minister's genuine interest, having had the opportunity to serve as Minister for the past 19 months. I wish him well in this regard.

I thank the Deputy.

I should also acknowledge the role of my predecessor, Deputy Troy, who adopted a highly proactive and energetic approach to the brief. In addition, I wish to pay tribute at the outset of this debate to the Fianna Fáil Ministers in the arts sphere who have served since 1997. I refer to people like Síle de Valera, John O'Donoghue, the late Seamus Brennan, Martin Cullen and Mary Hanafin. Sadly, none continue to be Members of this House but it is true to observe that as Minister, each became a powerful advocate for the arts. One often hear Ministers being criticised for having gone native in their Departments but in their case and that of the Minister, such a comment should be seen as a compliment.

Prior to the summer recess, my predecessor, Deputy Troy, and my party leader, Deputy Martin, tabled a motion on the arts and I consider it to be appropriate today to restate the commitment of my party to the arts. That motion tabled last June endorsed the positive contribution that a thriving arts and culture sector makes to Irish society as a whole, acknowledged the value of our cultural heritage and recognised the impact on the economy and jobs of the wider arts sector, which contributes €4.7 billion to the economy and directly and indirectly supports a massive 79,000 jobs. The motion also noted that in the period 2005 to 2010 alone, more than €1.1 billion was invested in the sector. It highlighted that these funds facilitated a transformation in the national, regional and community arts and culture infrastructure, in performance venues, as well as in film and television production capacity. In the perception of Fianna Fáil, Ireland's unique culture has long played a key role in defining us as a people and promoting a positive view of Irishness around the world. In particular, my party is of the view that we must be mindful of the capacity of the sector to provide opportunities for self-expression and involvement, which can help to lift people's spirits in a time of economic struggle. Fianna Fáil also realises the economic potential of the arts and creative industries and their role in supporting enterprise and innovation in the wider economy.

It is clear, however, the arts sector has not been immune to the recession and the squeeze on public finances. The Minister has made this clear both in this House and the national media. Funding for the Arts Council has been reduced by a quarter over the past four years. Naturally, many in the sector consequently feel obliged to look elsewhere and private philanthropy is an obvious avenue. Obviously, the Minister and his colleagues hope there is much to be gained from philanthropy and on this side of the House, I am happy to endorse the initiatives he has taken. Moreover, Fianna Fáil will happily render any practical assistance it can. One such measure, the philanthropy leverage initiative, is designed to encourage philanthropic sponsorship and endowment funding of the arts from private sources. While the Minister's proposal is modest in scale and almost is a microleverage scheme with State funding of just €230,000 set aside for arts organisations that raise money from private funds, it is nonetheless a meaningful step in the right direction.

Earlier this year the Forum on Philanthropy and Fundraising published a report and I must state the economic contribution made to national life by the non-profit sector in Ireland is quite remarkable. The employment of more than 100,000 people and an annual turnover of €5.7 billion are outstanding, as are the €3.7 billion in wages and salaries and the €290 million in employers' PRSI contributed each year. The report by the Forum on Philanthropy and Fundraising aspires to a 60% increase in philanthropic giving by 2016. The report's four key recommendations are establishing a national giving campaign, improving the fiscal environment and infrastructure for giving, developing fund-raising capacity among not-for-profit organisations and creating a national social innovation fund. As the Minister observed, philanthropy, certainly on a large scale, is a concept one associates more with the United States than this country or many European countries. While Ireland has a deserved reputation for charitable giving, it tends to be more in the area of crises and emergencies. Moreover, we can be very proud of what we have done in this regard. I still recall the remarkable scale of generosity exhibited by the Irish people during the Live Aid concert in the 1980s, when Ireland's contribution per capita must have been two or three times that of the United Kingdom where the event originated. Furthermore, notwithstanding the recession, charitable donations increased by almost a quarter between 2009 and 2010, a fact that is not widely acknowledged across the country. Ireland's contributions to charitable donations therefore are very high.

According to figures released last year, 89% of Irish adults give to charity, compared with 58% in the UK or 40% in Germany. The latter figure might not surprise Members. According to Philanthropy Ireland, Dubliners are the most generous givers to charitable causes and organisations in Ireland, donating an average of €207 per annum.

The rest of Leinster follows next with a typical annual donation of €190. People from Connacht and Ulster spend €99 per year and finally in the Minister's region, Munster, only €48 is given to charity each year. He might have a comment to make on that later. In the United States I understand that approximately 2% of gross domestic product, a remarkable $300 billion, is donated in the system of gifts or philanthropy. In Ireland the figure is 0.7% - the same as the target for our development aid budget. No doubt a key reason for this is that the state is much smaller in the United States. While I think few if any Deputies believe in minimal government, that is not the case in the US. In that country any form of public endowment for the arts can be subject to hostile criticism from those with a philosophical aversion to public spending.

A recent article in The Irish Times by Madeleine Clarke, founding director of the Genio Trust, pointed out that there is not only less philanthropic giving in Ireland than in many other countries, there is also a less developed infrastructure to channel philanthropic funds to where they could achieve the greatest impact. She went on to comment that the majority of this is spontaneous rather than planned. Much more could be achieved if philanthropy was guided by trusted intermediaries who could help achieve more significant and sustainable impact.

As I have said, any private giving we have in Ireland does not lean towards the arts sector. Private donations towards to the arts can often seem something of an elite pursuit, associated with those with deep pockets rattling their jewellery in the best seats in the house. Like many a caricature this may have a degree of truth in it but it is certainly not the whole story.

For example, an event like the triennial Dublin Piano Competition, which over the years has been corporately sponsored by GPA, Guardian Insurance and Axa, has many small private donors. Over the years supporters known as competition friends have contributed more than €1 million, money which has been used to enhance the winners' musical experience and to provide opportunities for young Irish pianists to reach the standards of their international peers. I understand the competition is now supported by a private benefactor which, given the scale of the competition, is a significant act of generosity.

The Friends of the National Collections of Ireland was established in 1924 with the goal "to secure works of art and objects of historic interest or importance for the national or public collections of Ireland by purchase, gift or bequest". It has acquired hundreds of heritage items over the past 88 years. For example, the National Gallery of Ireland has received 47 paintings, 133 print room items, four stained-glass panels and a sculpture through the FNCI. Other institutions to receive donations include the Dublin City Gallery, the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork and the Ulster Museum.

In developing the sector I presume the Minister will consider the report of the forum, especially the concept of a national giving campaign. I ask the Minister to elaborate on how he hopes to develop a culture of giving. Obviously that is not a matter just for him but I would be interested to hear his thoughts. Especially in such straitened times when there are so many other competing causes, how can we persuade people to remember the arts? Would the Minister consider appointing a specific champion for the cause? How about some of our most distinguished authors and artists? The late great Maeve Binchy would have made an outstanding advocate, especially as I understand it, in view of the fact that she did not take advantage of the tax exemption for creative artists. Perhaps it would be better to showcase those who could benefit from a culture of giving instead of celebrity appeals? In order to encourage a culture of giving we need to emphasise that ultimately it is not a subsidy, but an investment in our culture, our society and our economy. There can be a multiplier effect that will be of benefit to all, not just those receiving any immediate benefit.

The forum report suggested a high-profile launch for such a campaign with the Taoiseach and a Minister involved. As Fine Gael's election guru, Mr. Frank Flannery, chaired the report group, this should be easy to achieve. How does the Minister hope to ensure his portfolio can get its moment in the spotlight? The next step for a campaign of giving, according to the forum report, was to commission some motivational research on charitable giving and philanthropy as a matter of priority. Has this happened yet? Will the Minister have any input into the nature of the research?

A flip side of this is how those raising funds should go about their business and utilising to the full the culture of giving. The forum suggested a campaign of education in fund-raising itself, with training and support systems in place. Many want to fund-raise and to increase their activity but they are not always clear as to how to go about it. The forum proposal for diplomas and certificates, an approved and recognised qualification, will also serve to build confidence.

When launching the report of the Forum on Philanthropy and Fundraising, the Taoiseach made the point that "fund-raising will never be - nor should it be - a substitute for Government expenditure". I endorse that but there is a corollary, namely that fund giving should not be a substitute for paying taxes. I know there are caps in place but the principle is one of giving and any attempt to use it to reduce tax liabilities detracts from that principle. Is it really giving if it is reducing the Exchequer's income? I am not rejecting the idea of tax relief out of hand but perhaps we should consider it being available at the standard rate only.

There may be a need to simplify the rules for giving because anything that makes it easier to understand is welcome. The report of the forum proposed the decoupling of tax relief on donations to charities and approved bodies from the restriction that treats business investments, from which the investor benefits, in the same manner as charitable donations where the donor derives no benefit. This proposal acknowledges the key difference between tax relief to private philanthropy to promote the public good and private investment to promote private gain. This clearly is welcome and should be implemented at the earliest opportunity.

Other recommendations deal with the infrastructure and administrative arrangements for philanthropy. Firm regulatory oversight is rightly called for because a clear system of accountability is imperative if greater giving is to be achieved. Reliable information is also required and the suggestion that the Central Statistics Office collect data on charitable donations on a quarterly basis is also one that seems very sensible to me. While the not-for-profit sector is very significant, the level of information possessed about it certainly is not.

There is no doubt that the connection between philanthropy and the arts is relatively undeveloped in Ireland. We all agree that this needs rectifying and we are happy to follow the Minister's leadership on the matter. Fianna Fáil will be happy to support any constructive measures that achieve this goal. We are all agreed that a culture of giving can have widespread social and economic benefits. It is up to all of us with an interest and a brief in the arts to ensure that culture gets its look-in. Notwithstanding the recession, many in Ireland still have great personal wealth and it is to be hoped that with it - to quote Ms Olive Braiden, a former chair of the Arts Council - "comes a responsibility to give, to display the generosity, wisdom and quiet patriotism that fosters those aspects of human endeavour that bestow life with meaning and possibility".

I welcome the opportunity to speak on this issue today. The arts, through theatre, music, dance, the visual arts, architecture, opera, traditional arts, literature and film, make an enormous contribution to Irish society. They help to define us a people, shape our sense of place and are key factors in shaping our sense of national identity. The arts are also central to our sense of cultural identity. Irish people have a deeply embedded and distinctive tradition of storytelling, image making and music. That tradition underpins our great achievements in many fields of the arts. The nation's rich artistic heritage is continually being added to and transformed by a new generation of Irish artists.

Cultural and artistic expression is dynamic and fluid. It is in a constant state of interpretation, reinterpretation, and invention. However, cultural and artistic expression and creativity require nurturing and support.

In the current economic maelstrom of people losing their jobs, struggling to find work, burdened by debts or living lives of daily uncertainty in terms of their future, the arts have the ability to provide a source of enrichment and escape. At a societal level, the arts have the potential to lift the spirits of the nation. Culture night is a great example in this regard. Last Friday week many towns across the country were buzzing with many people taking part in cultural events.

The arts are, of course, also one of our most lucrative cultural exports. Not only are the arts good for society in general, they have an important role to play in helping Ireland to rebuild its international reputation. Irish artists enhance our global reputation, be it on movie screens, in theatres, on concert stages or through books. This reputation, in turn, drives tourism from abroad. For example, 1.6 million overseas tourists visited our museums and galleries in 2011. A further 433,000 attended festivals and other cultural events. Cultural tourism is worth more than €2 billion to the Irish economy. For example, the total economic impact of the west Cork music festival in 2011 was €1.6 million. The total economic impact of the Galway arts festival in the same year was €17.5 million. Some 80% of foreign tourists cite culture and heritage as a motivating factor in choosing Ireland as their preferred holiday destination. More important, this is the only growth area of the Irish tourism market.

In an increasingly homogenised and globalised world, where cities are competing with each other for tourists and foreign direct investment, the arts have the potential to be an important pull factor. They mark Ireland out as a distinctive and rich place to visit or, more important, as the ideal location to set up a business and live. In a time of great harshness and fiscal cruelty we should be protecting and investing in the arts. This Government is choosing to crudely dismantle important aspects of our artistic infrastructure and national heritage, while paying scant regard to the impact of such actions on tourism, communities, business, Ireland's international reputation and last, but not least, the national well-being.

The arts have a humanising effect on society. They bring softness, imagination and creativity to communities that in economic and infrastructural terms have all but been forgotten by the State and the political elite. The arts have the potential to soften urban wastelands and to give hope and human solace to people who often legitimately feel betrayed by the political system and those in power. At local level, the Arts Council, in grant aiding local arts groups, individual artists and small art organisations, reaches into the very heart of almost every community in Ireland. This aid is particularly important for disadvantaged neighbourhoods in cities across urban Ireland. It is an accepted fact that the arts, be it in the form of a community orchestra, a local drama group or a three-person band, can make a crucial intervention in a young person's life, giving him or her a sense of self-worth and purpose.

To this end, councils across the country have developed policies that include cross departmental support for arts events and activities that have at their core social inclusion. One such example is the community and enterprise department in Limerick which is involved in supporting the city's life-long learning festival - the environment department in supporting May music in the park and RAPID, the travellers story telling project. Not alone are the arts good for individuals, cities and society and for Ireland's international reputation, they are good for our economy too. The Arts Council annually supports 3,000 jobs. It funds 2,000 cultural events and 500 organisations, generating a turnover of €192 million, sending €54 million directly back to the Exchequer in the form of income, VAT and other taxes.

The Arts sector supports 27,000 jobs and contributes €382 million in taxes. The total of direct, indirect and induced employment supported by the arts and creative industries is 79,000 jobs. One wonders why then that State funding and investment in the arts is down by 25%, from €84.6 million in 2008 to €63.2 million in 2012. Sinn Féin is concerned at the proposal to merge the various key cultural institutions. We are also opposed to any change in the arm's length principal or to any proposals that would interfere with the independence of key artistic and cultural institutions.

The Minister's proposals, if implemented, would have a lasting and detrimental impact on the arts and cultural sector in Ireland. One can only draw the conclusion that such proposals are clearly not thought through. Rather, they are an exercise in optics by a Government that is obsessed with reducing the numbers of quangos and cost cutting, even when it makes no sense. It would seem that the Minister is going to forge ahead irrespective of the damage such cuts will have on cultural tourism, jobs, and society in general and on poor disadvantaged communities in particular. What is even worse is that this Government has not produced any information regarding cost benefit analysis, head-count reductions and so on that would justify the proposed changes. It is intent on embarking on a process of amalgamations, mergers, dissolution of independent boards and non-renewal of vital leadership roles.

The arts, artistic heritage and culture belong to all of the people on the island of Ireland. The Government of the day has a duty to foster, promote and preserve this national creativity. This is particularly important as we begin the decade of commemorations and enter a new era in terms of our national identity. Thus, it is imperative that we have independent, robust and well-funded national artistic and cultural institutions. Only then can the various commemorations be seen as an opportunity to revisit our past, with the expressed aim of building a more inclusive and equal society. If the Minister continues down the path of slashing funding to the arts then this opportunity will sadly have been lost.

Libraries, archives, exhibitions, museums, and community arts projects and so on need investment and should not be seen by short-sighted bureaucrats as an opportunity for cost cutting. With regard to the National Archives and the National Library, no one in these institutions objects to the idea of shared resources or to co-operating in common fields of interest. However, it needs to be acknowledged that the two institutions perform very different functions. The Minister needs to acknowledge this and to recognise that it is this uniqueness which makes these institutions invaluable national assets.

The National Library has custody of our great literary and estate manuscript collections and is an important public resource. The focus of the National Archives is solely on archives, most of them departmental files, which are different kinds of records to manuscript collections. The latter are vital for understanding the political, social and economic evolution of the Irish State. The cuts to the National Library budget have been disproportionate. From 2008 to 2012, its funding has been cut by 40% and its staff by 38%. In spite of this, it has delivered on key aspects of public service reform and innovation. It hosted 1.2 million visitors last year, promoted shared services, curated major exhibitions and made vast amounts of material available on-line. This debate is not about money or approaches to the arts. It is about autonomous governance, public ownership and resisting the bureaucratic centralisation of the arts and culture administration in Ireland.

If this Government was serious about reform it would do the opposite, by allowing genuine, autonomous and transparent governance of the cultural institutions, with unpaid board members who are independent of party politics and experts in their fields. It would meet without delay with the people who know best, namely, the various artistic and cultural organisations and stakeholders. It would value independent advice and input rather than seek to eliminate it. More important, it would desist from attempts to micro-manage complex institutions with rich histories under the pretence of cost cutting.

I call on the Minister to develop an all-Ireland approach to arts and culture and I urge him to remember that very rare institutions exist, the societal value of which far exceeds any monetary value.

Sinn Féin believes it is imperative that we preserve, safeguard and invest in the arts. If the past is to have a future and if the arts are to fulfil their potential as tools for integration and inclusion, then an all-Ireland approach must be the way forward. In the final analysis, the language of imagination, creativity, social inclusion and arts for all must replace the State-centred language of cost cutting, structural reform and bureaucratic control.

I am a great believer that when somebody does one a turn then one should feel a sense of obligation to return something, and we must see philanthropy in this context as two-way. I am concerned about the approach being taken to The Gathering, which I know is more with regard to tourism. It has the potential to end up as a one dimensional and quite superficial event and we could do so much better. We cannot see opportunities like The Gathering as one-off superficial events. We must seek to give them a deeper and longer meaning. Wider opportunities for philanthropy exist in the areas of arts, heritage and culture than the narrow definition of paintings and literature, although these are incredibly important and very defining. Heritage, genealogy, our archives and records are part of this and rather than seeking to dip into the pockets or bank accounts of those who number themselves as part of the diaspora, we must offer them a real connection so they can reinforce their sense of belonging.

As has been stated previously, we have a very good record of charitable giving while other places have a culture of philanthropy such as Atlantic Philanthropies, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Music, the written word and the creativity we have brought to the stage have helped to showcase us and have shown what makes the Irish unique. Our sense of identity is wrapped up in this and millions around the world are proud of this heritage. However, we do not make it easy for them to take it a stage further and feel a sense of belonging by connecting to the actual place of origin. A real opportunity exists in this.

Those who left Ireland in the many waves of immigration predominantly did so between 1845 and today and approximately 70 million people throughout the world claim a level of Irish ancestry. One thing we collectively own is evidence of where we came from and this takes the form of records. It is a commonly held view that all of our 19th century records were destroyed when the Public Records Office was set on fire in 1922. We need to dispel this myth. A huge amount of resources and information remain but we present them in such a fragmented way that we make it difficult for people to search, make a connection and belong. Such a sense of belonging would produce many types of returns. The idea of the mother ship has been mulling around for some time but we must understand why people who have connections to Ireland might want to come here and feel a sense of belonging which is much more profound than just visiting. It is one thing for British, American or Australian people to say they have Irish roots, but it is quite another to make a direct connection which deepens this sense of belonging, and I believe this is what we must aim to achieve. This requires us to give something as well as get something in terms of donations, philanthropy or charity.

I have an interest in family history and have found reconnecting with my ancestors and understanding what made them make the decisions they did a very deep and enriching experience. Dublin families like mine often have a mixed Irish heritage and while I have one Dublin line I also have ancestors from the cities of Limerick and Belfast. Dublin and Belfast were the only two cities to increase their population in the latter part of the 19th century so families from there will have mixed ancestry. They are also important counties as many people left from them.

I have been back and forth on numerous occasions to both cities because I feel a sense of connection to them. Each time I go I buy whatever local histories have been written since my previous visit, so much so I have a small library which I know feeds into the local economies. Recently I was asked to nominate my favourite places in Ireland and Limerick city was one of them. People might raise an eyebrow at this but it is a city which is much maligned even though it has an extraordinary wealth of records which have been carefully gathered and preserved. It has a wonderful heritage of local historians and a wealth of historic buildings which have been carefully restored. My point is that my sense of belonging to the city makes me see it for what it really is. I can bypass the press image of it and see the city for itself. We can make this happen for tens of thousands if not millions of people who have connections to all parts of Ireland and not only to the traditional tourist destinations. If they come to these destinations, we will have an opportunity to showcase local histories, museums, art and culture, and it is important that they come so this dual vibrancy exists. We can do this by helping them with their paper trail, and philanthropy can play a role in this.

I have been to many repositories in my search for my ancestors, which I started in earnest approximately 15 years ago before it was possible to search digitally, and I have had an opportunity to watch other people who were doing the same. People are very helpful to each other in such situations and there is much interaction. I remember an elderly gentleman from United States who had just made a connection and found something on a microfilm, and he sat watching and waiting for the same thing to happen for someone else. One can be certain he kept returning here because of it.

I remember being in the old Civil Registration Office in Lombard Street when two Liverpool girls found their connections to the past. They demonstrated in a very loud way but it did not annoy those who were there because they understood the importance to them of making the connection. Given the connection this country has with Liverpool, it was a great irony that this was going in the other direction.

There are often queues in the new research room in the General Register Office in the Irish Life Centre. Records are rationed and one can see only a certain number a day. How crazy is this? Excellent work has been done in recent years on digitising the 1901 and 1911 census and the same will be done to the 1926 census. However, this work was done in Canada. The State has indexed the civil registration records and taxpayer's money was used to digitise the indexes. What is interesting is that they are not available online on an Irish website. They are free to view on the website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has done fantastic work on putting some of the records on microfilm. Ironically, one can buy from ancestry.co.uk the records we paid to produce, but none of them is available through an Irish website or online facility.

There is something very peculiar about that. We need to foster a culture of co-operation between the various projects. For example, the Irish Family History Foundation, with which Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú and others are involved, has done fantastic work. Something like 19 million records are available online through that website, but it is not complete because there seems to be parallel delivery with another organisation. We need to get to grips with those matters. What I am looking for is an overall project that eventually involves digitising all available data sets in order that we have one brand and go-to place.

This is a huge opportunity. For example, according to an article in the Sunday Independent some time ago, 90,000 overseas visitors came to Ireland last year to trace their roots and spent as much as €61 million. They went to all parts of Ireland, not just one. The figure of €61 million is twice the amount taken during the tall ships festival, which was a fantastic event. That puts it in context. One could have a virtual army of people employed digitising these records. We must think much bigger and think in a collective way. This may involve pay to view, while in some cases it may be free. It could employ a very large number of people for several years because there are many very good records.

There is ongoing academic work in understanding the importance of connection to geographical place. For example, research by UCD's institute for British-Irish studies suggests "that in increasingly geographically mobile and globalised societies like Ireland, a sense of place is still a strong marker of identity and central to people's knowledge and understanding of themselves and others". According to the authors of the research, which was part of an international social survey programme, "not only is identity with a place of living still very strong, but that it is deep and complex and enmeshed with a sense of belonging to the place where people grew up, the wider county and the nation". The clusters of Irish people who appear when Irish people go abroad demonstrates that this continues through the generations.

Our national archives, in addition to the census records, also hold records like the tithe applotment books, police recruitment records, some records on criminals and some landed estate records that are clues to tenant farmers. Some are in paper format whiles others are on microfilm and microfiche. Some can be searched online, including the Australian transportation records. Ledgers from the Probate Court can also be viewed despite the fact that the wills were destroyed. The civil registration digitisation project has been under way for many years. Again, I make the point that these data are not available online. I went into the Civil Registration Office, CRO, and asked why they are not available and why a poster was not put up stating they could be accessed online through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints genealogy service. I was told they could not do that because it was not the CRO's website. We are making it more difficult for people to find their connections. The National Library has a genealogy service and, obviously, that is important. The point I am making in respect of records such as those in the Valuation Office, employment records, a huge number of railway records, gravestones and cemeteries is that the situation is so fragmented that it is incredibly difficult to do a complete search. I did it myself and it took me years. We can make it much easier.

I am concerned about how the new privacy bill may exclude people doing genuine searches. One might get a list and not be able to see the names on it except for the name being searched for. We must not make it more difficult for people who have a genuine reason to do searches. It relates to the Data Protection Act. I would like to see something like an ISO 9000 arrangement because there is a lot of rubbish on websites and people can get conned into handing over money. We should think very big on this. Not only are there tourism opportunities, there are also serious job possibilities in the digitisation process. When people return, spend their money and keep going back to the same place, they will engage in things like cultural tourism. This in turn will generate income to reduce people's dependence on State support. There is an opportunity that is being lost here due to the fragmentation of our records.

Deputy Paul Connaughton is sharing time with Deputy Mulherin.

In Ireland, fund-raising by arts organisations is responsible for, on average, just 3% of total income. In Great Britain and Australia, that figure can be multiplied by 11, where fund-raising accounts for one third of total income. Clearly, the culture of philanthropic giving to the arts in Ireland must be promoted and encouraged and I commend the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht on a number of initiatives introduced to drive progress in this area.

Unlocking new funding from the private sector for the arts is a key proposal in the programme for Government and it is only right that the Government supports every effort to increase the level of arts funding secured through fund-raising to mirror the ratio experienced in countries such as Great Britain and Australia. The philanthropy leverage initiative introduced by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in May of this year is designed to encourage philanthropic sponsorship and funding of the arts from private sources. Significant funding of €230,000 has been set aside for 2012 for this initiative as it aims to support projects of varying scale and art forms. The initiative is the key that can be worked to unlock funding of up to 2.5 times that allocated, generating additional funding of €805,000 for the arts in 2012. The key to the success of this initiative is the spread of projects supported. The Government aims to promote and strengthen the arts in all forms and to increase access to and participation in the arts, so great care must be taken to ensure people throughout Ireland can see the fruits of the labour supported by the philanthropy leverage initiative.

There is a danger that many of the projects will centre on the capital city, given the well-developed infrastructure already in place, but a geographic spread is imperative. I understand that, to date, groups that have benefited included Macnas in Galway, Cork Community Art Link and the Little Museum of Dublin. I also note that the recently launched Arts Council's RAISE: Building Fund-raising Capacity has identified eight key projects to be supported for two years by providing one-to-one professional support, and these are spread throughout the country and include the Galway Arts Festival, the Model Gallery in Sligo, Wexford Festival Opera and the Gate Theatre. Groups selected had to demonstrate that they had the ambition, potential and commitment to raise more than €250,000 per annum in private investment.

The current recession has hit families and communities particularly hard. With little money and very few work opportunities, the arts is one area where people's energy can be harnessed and their creativity encouraged, but this needs greater support at community level. There is a danger that by selecting larger projects for support, smaller community arts groups will lose out, not having the necessary infrastructure in place to pursue the available funding.

Philanthropy also has the potential to be of huge benefit to local community-led arts groups, but only if their microfinance funding capabilities are matched by philanthropic giving. The culture of philanthropic giving in Ireland also has to be examined, promoted and encouraged. Too few people are aware of philanthropy. Programmes such as "The Secret Millionaire" are awakening people to the possibility of giving money for medium and long-term community projects which will improve the lives of people in their local community or region. In contrast, this is a well-established cultural norm in places such as Great Britain and Australia, where wealthy people often choose to establish a bursary for students from their home area or provide long-term finance to sustain a particular project. A culture of philanthropic giving can be promoted in Ireland and I believe that community is at the heart of this.

Just as the Tidy Towns initiative harnessed the energy behind people's love for their home place, wealthy individuals could be encouraged to become part of an initiative to promote projects in their localities, be they community arts projects, sports projects or bursaries, to ease the path of a student from a particular area through college.

The philanthropic leverage initiative is one tool to be used to open avenues of funding to arts groups. The Government's efforts to increase the culture of philanthropy are a move in the right direction as we seek to harness the fund-raising capabilities of arts groups of all sizes and in all areas.

The Latin quotation, "Ars longa; vita brevis", is often rendered in English as, "Art is long; life is short". It might well mean we have limited time to reflect and make statements about the world about us that will outlast us and form a basis of understanding for future generations. Why is this important and how is it done? The quotation is particularly poignant when we talk about philanthropy. Through the arts, we not only have the language to communicate but a platform to inform and educate generations to come about who we are and what we are becoming. If we do not communicate this, someone who knows little about us and does not speak our language, the language of our times, will tell them. It is important that we speak honestly about ourselves and our experiences of our time. This we can do in an enduring way through the arts, not only for our time but for always. I, therefore, welcome any initiative proposed to fund the arts.

As chair of my local arts centre in Ballina and a witness to the hard work done to raise funds to build that centre and theatre, which we are very fortunate to have, and furnish them with modern equipment, I realise the arts need all the help they can get. Clearly, the Minister has been thinking outside the box. Recognising the economic constraints and in sympathy with the national campaign for the arts conducted by arts organisations and artists, which campaign draws attention to the pressure they are under owing to reduced arts funding, the Minister has come up with two exciting programmes. I commend him on incentivising would-be philanthropists to provide a legacy for future generations. As with the tax incentives that helped make Ireland a haven for film and create some great films on this island, and which promoted the sector while bringing much-needed jobs and revenue to our shores, these new programmes will doubtless offer similar great possibilities. I congratulate the Minister and look forward to seeing the programmes explored to their fullest.

I am pleased to have an opportunity to contribute. It is delightful to be back looking over at the Minister, Deputy Deenihan. We had a very pleasant relationship over the past 12 months.

The indications are it will continue with the Deputy's successor.

Very good. Let me take up where I left off shortly before the summer recess, that is, on my Private Members' business on the independence of our cultural institutions. I referred at the time to the vicious attack the Minister seems to be making on these institutions. I outlined how successive Governments had maintained the arm's length principle. I had hoped the current Minister, Deputy Deenihan, would follow through on what he said in his election manifesto by maintaining the arm's length principle with regard to various cultural institutions.

I reserve judgment.

The Minister will reserve judgment. In June 2012, the Minister indicated a decision would be made imminently, but it is now October. It is a pity no decision has been made. At the time, the Minister spoke unconvincingly and did not give this side of the House confidence that the arm's length principle would be maintained or that the individual boards would be maintained such that the various cultural institutions would retain their autonomy.

It was a Fianna Fáil policy.

I hope I will be allowed ten minutes in which to speak. If the Minister wants to revert to me afterwards, that will be no problem, much as I like to discuss matters across the floor of the House.

Before the summer recess, I stated the National Gallery, the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Crawford Art Gallery had made a very positive submission on shared services, stipulating, however, that each would retain its autonomy, board and director. The proposal was to share back-office resources, thus making savings. I asked the Minister to use this example when considering the rationalisation of services in the other cultural institutions. I acknowledged at the time in question that savings must be made. It is in light of this that we are here talking about philanthropy and how we can resource the arts sector. Given the financial constraints, no Minister has the resources he would like to have for the Arts Council and the various cultural bodies that do invaluable work in communities throughout the country.

The potential of the arts sector has not been reached. Investment by the Government in the arts is repaid many times over due to the multiplier effect. It is important, therefore, that we consider philanthropy. Ireland is a very generous nation. Figures show that 89% of Irish adults give to charity, compared with 58% in the United Kingdom and 40% in Germany. However, our charitable donations do not seem to go to the arts but to other causes, such as addressing the consequences of natural disasters, and to those who are less well off than ourselves. Therefore, we must consider how best to encourage businesses and wealthy individuals to invest in the arts sector in order that services would be prioritised and maintained.

Earlier this year, the Minister launched the philanthropy leverage initiative. It was established with funding of €230,000. It was envisaged that twice this amount would be unlocked in private sector funding, generating total funding of €805,000 for this year. The initiative was established as a pilot initiative. Will the Minister confirm whether he intends to maintain this scheme in 2013 and thereafter? How many groups have benefited from it or received allocations? Are the allocations still in the melting pot, as with the sports capital grants? What are the qualifying criteria for applicants who have applied for funding under the scheme? If the scheme is continued next year, what funding will be made available?

As a former board member of the Mullingar Arts Centre, I saw at first hand the positive impact of the arts sector on the local economy as well as its role as an educational utility for the young and old. The number of children who visit the centre every week is phenomenal. Local productions in arts centres throughout the country are encouraging.

Perhaps the Minister has clarified the next matter I wish to raise. How will the philanthropy initiative progress, what level of funding will it have and how will businesses and high net worth individuals be encouraged in practical terms to part with their money in support of arts centres? Are there concrete proposals and targets in this regard? One can only measure the success of a scheme or initiative if one has set clear and concrete targets. How much funding does the Government wish to extract from the private sector and how does it propose to do so?

Today, we received a briefing in the audio-visual room on the extensive work carried out in respect of The Gathering. It is a good project. Some of those involved have been visiting two towns in my constituency this week and last to brief local organisations, including the IFA, the GAA, chambers of commerce among others, and encourage them to support the initiative. Although The Gathering falls under the remit of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Minister, Deputy Deenihan, will play a leading role. Our cultural institutions will be pivotal, as returning members of the diaspora will want to visit them. I hope the Minister will have managed by then to protect the institutions' autonomy, the services they provide and their invaluable work. We will wait to see what comes out in the wash, but I hope that the Minister will have managed to protect the arm's length principle.

I call Deputy Donohoe, who is sharing time with Deputy Corcoran Kennedy.

I enjoyed the opening of Deputy Troy's contribution, when he referred to the Minister's work before the summer. We have become used to amnesia being a conscious political choice by Fianna Fáil. The party tries to paint a picture of politics in government starting with this Dáil. However, a new tool has been added to its armoury, namely, selective recall. I heard Deputy Troy use the phrase "the vicious attack this Minister seems to be making on cultural institutions" and assert that we were attacking the institutions' independence. It made me believe that the Deputy was quite endowed with the kind of artistic imagination that he praised in the middle of his speech. It is entirely appropriate for any Government, be it this one or the last, at any point in its tenure to sit back and wonder what type of relationship it has with institutions that are funded by the taxpayer, whether they are still fit for purpose and whether they reflect the times. This is exactly what the Minister, Deputy Deenihan, is seeking to do.

Prior to and following the relevant Private Member's motion, I spoke to a number of the organisations involved. They had legitimate concerns and observations about what was transpiring, but I did not get the sense, following the debate in the House, that they believed they were under a vicious attack by the Minister or that he was pounding on their doors to remove their autonomy or power.

Ask Professor Diarmaid Ferriter.

What the Minister is doing is entirely appropriate if we are to understand what type of relationship we want with the bodies and what choices we can make to ensure the people who are interested in the arts and who want to enjoy museums and galleries - the people the bodies seek to serve - are able to do so in future.

I am a regular visitor to one of the bodies Deputy Troy mentioned, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, IMMA, in Kilmainham. I attended Leonard Cohen's wonderful gig there two weeks ago. I had no sense that the IMMA believed that it was under siege by the Minister or that he had threatened to pull down either the institution or the autonomy it protects. I am sure the Minister will respond to this point, but I was amused by the idea that he would viciously attack any cultural body.

I have a number of specific concerns about this matter. Deputy Mulherin mentioned the value of the arts. In this time of considerable economic difficulty, the arts have never been more valuable to or appreciated by the people. I have two examples in mind. First, I agree with Deputy Troy regarding the way in which local communities, towns and villages organise to provide arts and experiences for people in their localities. There is a wonderful example in my community. A group of local Phibsborough residents have organised the Phizzfest community festival for the third year in a row. It is funded by locals and is entirely voluntary. They have gone from trying to bring a spark and vitality to their locality to devising a week-long schedule of events that featured many of the country's best artists performing in new spaces and different areas for the benefit of locals. This is an example of the important role being played by the arts.

Second, an organisation called the Complex used to be based in Smithfield. The Minister is aware of it. The Complex is an example of a body that is trying to respond to the new economic environment. It is no longer in the Smithfield premises. Instead, it finds vacant premises in the Smithfield and wider Dublin 7 area and opens new theatres and performance spaces. This is the type of activity we must support even more. The local level has imagination and dedication. I hope the Government's work on promoting philanthropic contributions will encourage the arts and allow them to flourish.

I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this debate. Having been involved in the arts in a voluntary capacity for many years, I can see at first hand their value to society, especially at local and community level. Given the enjoyment that people of all ages and abilities can derive from the arts, funding must continue.

Given our current constraints, the Minister's proposal is exciting and interesting, and it is being welcomed by the arts community.

In this country we are good at many things and excellent at others, the area of artistic endeavour being one of them. We even take for granted how good we are at it. We also have an excellent capacity for giving and scope in generosity. At a time when we are at a funding crossroads, these two must meet, and the arts sector must look to develop its own place in philanthropic giving.

I looked at some figures today and it is staggering, considering the size of our country, that €500 million is generated annually in philanthropic income, which is a significant figure. However, just 0.6% goes to the arts. With pressure on budgets for the arts, I see this as a great opportunity for big and small organisations to add fund-raising to their business model and put strategies in place to deliver on those efforts successfully. There is no denying that it will be a challenge to encourage philanthropy, and many groups will have to skill up and think outside the box. The great thing about the arts community is that it is great at that. These bodies will be well able to put themselves in a position to solicit effectively levels of funding both from individual and corporate philanthropists.

These arts bodies will also need to be in a position to articulate a very strong case for support and continue to build a relationship with funders. I am confident they will rise to the challenge and they will not be on their own in doing so. The programme for Government provides for building private support for the arts, and so I welcome the programmes being progressed by the Minister and his Department, the philanthropy leverage initiative and the Arts Council initiative entitled RAISE: Building Fund-raising Capacity. The philanthropy initiative will be terrific for those organisations which successfully obtain private funding as they will be able to obtain matching funding up to €20,000. The advantage in obtaining private funding and being topped up by the Government is marvellous.

I wish the participants of RAISE every success as it has the amazing ambition of raising €10 million in private funding over the next five years. I know much expertise exists to help them, including existing organisations such as Business to Arts, Philanthropy Ireland and the Community Foundation for Ireland, which will no doubt be a help, in addition to the private fund-raisers to be installed as mentors to organisations.

As I noted, the artistic sector is very creative and innovative. Fund It is another marvellous initiative, an online platform where philanthropic support is crowd sourced, meaning people can give as little or as much as they want to fund specific artistic activities. I look forward to attending the seminar organised by the Minister in Smock Alley, and I know many people will come from various parts of the country to it. I will encourage people to come from Birr and Tullamore. Tullamore is developing a new arts centre with the support of the local county and town council, and a significant amount of money has been raised. The Minister has given a commitment on that funding, and I look forward to supporting him in his endeavours to ensure that, contrary to previous comments, this Government is fully supporting the arts community and its work to the benefit of society.

WB Yeats, the great Sligo poet, wrote:

Come away, O human child!

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand,

For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

When he wrote "The Stolen Child", it concerned children who were born weak and passed away. He had beautiful imagery of the fairies taking the weak child to a better place from a world of weeping and trouble. Would it not be wonderful if we had W.B. Yeats today to write about the young people emigrating to the four corners of the world? These are the people we should be keeping at home, but the fairies are not taking them away. Ireland is driving them away through her action and inaction.

Art, at its most basic, should both mirror and shape society. This country and the arts are synonymous, and throughout the world Ireland is renowned for the quality of its artists and the work produced down through the centuries to now. Whether it is in the field of music, theatre, literature or film, the Irish have punched far above their weight on the international scene. This is not just a modern phenomenon, and as far back as the Middle Ages, Irish manuscripts far surpassed anything else that had been produced in Europe at that time. Irish craft and metalwork was envied by contemporaries.

Culture and the arts have been renewed and revived through generations of Irish people, and for this we have received worldwide recognition. The arts should never be solely about money as it has the potential to bring smiles to people in pain and lift the hearts of those who are suffering. Anyone going to a traditional music session or attending a theatre to watch a play or visiting an art gallery can see the transfixed faces of others. Even if it is only for a short time, these people are taken from their daily worries and put in a place of beauty that lifts their hearts.

There are philistines who will argue that in a time of economic stringency, we cannot afford to subsidise the arts. Nevertheless, there is a strong economic argument in favour of financial support for the arts. Some of the figures I found in research surprised me. For example, the total of direct, indirect and induced employment in Arts Council funded organisations and the wider arts sector is 21,328. How much would it cost the IDA to produce 21,328 sustainable jobs in the country? The total of direct, indirect and induced employment supported by the arts and creative industries is 79,000 jobs. In 2011, direct Exchequer revenue from the cultural and creative sectors was in excess of €1 billion, and 80% of foreign tourists cite culture and heritage as a motivating factor in choosing Ireland. Moreover, 1.6 million overseas tourists attend galleries and museums and 433,000 overseas tourists attend festivals and other events.

Cultural tourism is worth more than €2 billion to the economy, so the philistines must understand that there is a very solid economic basis for this State and the Government to support the arts industry. Cultural tourism is the only growth area of the tourism market and it has continued potential for significant growth. However, funding for and investment in the arts is down by 25% from €84.6 million in 2008 to €63.2 million in 2011.

I fear that reduction in investment will have a consequential reduction in the financial benefits we receive as a nation from those who come to study our arts and culture.
To take the example of Irish music, for no reason other than it is a passion of mine, and the influence it has had on the Irish identity and the great potential it holds, there is a strong argument for investment. In my area of Sligo-Leitrim, there are the renowned traditional musicians of the past, including the late great Michael Coleman, Seamus Morrison, Ladda Beirne, Joe O'Dowd, Seamus Kelly and John McKenna, which are household names not only in this country but abroad, down to today's great exponents who are carrying on and making this tradition flourish, including Brian Rooney, the Lennon family, Seamie O'Dowd, Seamus Tansey, Kila, Dervish, Seamus Connolly and hundreds more. I will probably be in serious trouble at home because I have missed more than I have named. There are also the Emerald Revellers, the lovely dancing troupe. There are many musicians of other genres who play a valuable and important role in Irish culture and that fact is recognised throughout the world. Major artists such as Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, whom a speaker mentioned earlier, who are world known musicians, have acknowledged the influence of Irish culture on their music and poetry. Those who know the beauty and the value of culture, poetry and music acknowledge it, and they acknowledge the influence we have had on their own development.
To come up to date, an Irish band, U2, is one of the biggest selling bands in the world. How many U2s are waiting to be discovered and play an important role in the promotion of Ireland as a country that develops, promotes, protects and values Irish music and all forms of music?
Music also has a very important role to play in how we perceive ourselves as a people. We are probably unrivalled in the popular knowledge of folk songs that tell the story of Irish history, often from the forgotten perspective of the ordinary man and woman. Music still has a very important part to play in the development of the Irish psyche. What better way is there of giving young people a platform to express what they are going through during the current economic crisis than through the medium of music. Government fostering, rather than government control, of music in Ireland will bear fruit for generations to come.
Similarly, Irish literature is widely regarded on the world stage. The list of influential and renowned authors, poets and playwrights that this small island has produced is astounding. Perhaps most importantly, Irish writers have accurately and fluidly transcribed the feelings, beliefs and perspectives of the Irish people. William Butler Yeats could accurately describe the Irish rural idyll when he penned about a small cabin in his poem, "The Lake Isle of Innisfree". Patrick Kavanagh hit home the problems of rural isolation when he said, "O stony grey soil of Monaghan, The laugh from my love you thieved". These writers have probably done more for Ireland and its people through their writings than all the bankers and developers could ever hope to do. People like them need to be encouraged.
I started with William Butler Yeats so I will finish him. In September 1913, some people who appreciated the importance of the arts in Ireland were trying to get businessmen in Dublin and throughout the country who would help them financially to build the Hugh Lane Gallery, and they were not having much success. William Butler Yeats penned at the time the request that they not add the ha'penny to the penny and the prayer to shivering prayer. I ask the Minister not to add the ha'penny to the penny and the prayer to the shivering prayer.

The next speaker is Deputy Kevin Humphreys and he is sharing his time with Deputy Nash.

I compliment the previous speaker on his contribution. His love of the arts is evident and I say "well done". I very much appreciated his contribution. I will probably talk in the cold hard facts of cash-----

The fiddle stuff.

-----rather than the beautiful arts, and in that way our contributions will balance each other.

That tells us all we need to know about the Deputy.

With funding from the State to the arts under extreme pressure, it is important we put in place structures to encourage people - wealthy people - to donate money to the arts. That facility must be open to everyone.

The philanthropy leverage initiative is welcome and I hope it succeeds in encouraging more donations to the arts and cultural sector. Corporate sponsorship has been a great support to the arts and cultural organisations in Ireland over the past ten years, but the collapse of our banks and development companies has ended a major source of revenue for the arts. Alternative sources need to be found, and we should encourage the many technology and pharmaceutical companies located here to support the arts. Many new ones have opened in recent months and years and they should be encouraged to support the arts, as was previously outlined.

We have put billions of euro into the banks but what have we got in return? Some of the better pieces of art from AIB and Bank of Ireland's extensive corporate collection have been given to the State, but one item that has not been given is the building currently occupied by Bank of Ireland on College Green where our first parliament sat. As a gesture to the Irish people, the bank should gift to the people of Ireland or to the city of Dublin the building which housed Grattan's Parliament. It is a perfect location for a central library or an arts centre for the city or the country. Should we find ourselves in the position where any further State support has to be given to Bank of Ireland, it should be conditional on the College Green building being handed over to the State. We, the people of Ireland, control 15% of the shares in Bank of Ireland and I call on the Minister for Finance, through our representatives on the board, to ask for the old Irish Parliament building to be given to the State. The bank must recognise the support the people have given to keep it alive as a functioning bank.

The next issue I wish to address is the recent report from the Forum on Philanthropy and Fundraising. It set the worthy goal of increasing giving by 60% from €500 million to €800 million by 2016. However, it proposed a series of changes in tax law to encourage giving. I have a fear of tax breaks, whether they be for nursing homes or for the arts. Providing a tax relief to the wealthy in order that they give more money to worthy causes is questionable in the current climate. If someone wants to give €1 million or €20, the State should not be subsidising their personal choice to give money. That subsidy is at the expense of social services. The Government must make a decision in the common good. A private donor has a choice about to whom or to what he or she gives his or her money. The current rules on tax relief discriminate against the ordinary citizen as one must donate more than €250 to a single charity, if one is a PAYE worker, before one can claim the relief which goes to the charity. I would question any change to the current tax regime.

The report made six proposals on the fiscal and tax infrastructure but there are two about which I would have strong reservations. On the first proposal, I believe relief should be reduced to the standard rate of 20%, as I believe any tax breaks should be, and not 33% as proposed in the report. I agree that the threshold should be lowered from €250. On the second proposal to decouple relief from the high earners restriction, I believe the cap of €80,000 should be lowered, not removed or increased to €1 million. Donations should not require a public subsidy that reduces the amount of State revenue available for democratic decisions of this Parliament. The common good must always win out. Tax breaks will reduce the money we have available for hospitals, school and child care provision.

The notion of allowing companies and wealthy people to decide where their tax euro go is contrary to the democratic good. Many tax exiles decide where they will donate rather than pay taxes in the State.

I have issues with other proposals but I do not have time to go into them. At a time of austerity and reductions in spending across social services, it would be questionable to provide tax relief to millionaires to give to worthy causes of their own selection. If people want to donate their wealth, they should not need a subsidy from the taxpayer.

I am grateful for the opportunity to share my observations with the House concerning the issue of philanthropy and the arts. I know only too well from my work as a director and manager of a range of different theatre companies, arts organisations and so on that funding is an issue that never goes away and it becomes even more critical in times of national financial crisis. Arts organisations have relied on various forms of philanthropy for their existence, whether it is support from individuals, local businesses or community fund-raising initiatives. I do not, though, include, sponsorship deals with large companies for festivals or showpiece events as acts of philanthropy. That is not the way they should be viewed. As welcome as such sponsorship is, companies do well out of these contributions and we often undervalue the positive exposure our arts events can bring to them.

A number of wealthy individuals have contributed to the arts. Some have done so publicly while others have chosen to do so privately. Such donations tend to be ad hoc and they are often for short-term or once-off high profile events. According to the Arts Council, fund-raising comprises only 3% of the income for arts organisations. While I suspect this figure does not take account of the many smaller local organisations across the country, it still compares poorly to other countries such as the UK or Australia, where they secure up to one third of their income through fund-raising. The ad hoc approach to Irish donations is a weakness correctly identified in the recent forum on philanthropy report, which aims to improve the rate of overall philanthropic support to approximately 60% over four years. This will be achieved by encouraging a more structured scheme of regular planned donations over a period similar to the scheme operated in the UK. Such schemes can be of huge benefit to the arts where in recent years uncertainty has crept in over budgets leading to a difficulty in formulating long-term production plans, which can be a constant drag on the development and creativity of production companies.

The recently launched Arts Council's RAISE: Building Fundraising Capacity pilot scheme, together with the philanthropy leverage initiative, will be of immense value. I hope the smaller grassroots organisations will also be catered for through this initiative. All participants and all artistic and cultural pursuits tend to be generated from the grassroots up. No actor gets his first role on the stage of the Abbey Theatre and no musician performs his or her first concert in the National Concert Hall. Small organisations will have the opportunity to draw down €5,000 from the State if they can raise €10,000 in private funds. Both these initiatives are welcome and I hope and believe they will be successful.

However, I sound a note of warning to the Minister and to the House. Increased funding from private sources should never serve as a fig leaf for a phased withdrawal of State support, which is critical. Such a return to the Victorian notion of private charity and patronage to the arts would be disastrous for cultural initiatives and the development of cultural pursuits in the State. I am sure none of us would want such a scenario. The State plays an important role in the provision of arts services at local authority and Arts Council level and through funding by the Minister's Department. It is important that the State continues to articulate our identity and our unique sense of ourselves through support for the arts.

I made that clear in my contribution.

I am glad the Minister has taken the opportunity to reiterate his support and the support of the Government for centrally funded supports for the arts going forward.

I am also pleased to contribute to this discussion. I welcome the Minister and compliment him on his interest in this area. He has for a long time demonstrated great interest and support for the arts. One Government backbencher said some people thought the Government would attack the arts. We are living in difficult times and there is always time for assessment, with value for money never being more important than it is now. It is only right and proper that we would review the position. The Minister has launched a number of initiatives and he has given more than €63 million to the Arts Council this year. He also launched a two-year pilot project recently, the Arts Council's RAISE: Building Fundraising Capacity, which is a second important development in philanthropic support for the arts.

The arts is a broad term and gives expression to many different forms of culture and preservation of our culture. I compliment the various groups, individuals and promoters of arts festivals throughout the country who have given a great bang for their buck over the years. I also compliment the arts officers, including Sally O'Leary and Melanie Scott, in my own county for the work they have done over the years, as they ploughed a lone furrow.

I refer to Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, CCE, and Fleadh Ceol na hÉireann, which gives great expression to music, song and dance. I visited the event in Cavan earlier this year and I was very impressed. I am delighted some of my own family achieved an all-Ireland win in set dancing. I saw a report on RTE's "Nationwide" programme presented by Mary Kennedy about the arts events taking place in tandem with the fleadh before I attended. I visited the various artistic events and it was amazing. I acknowledge it is the third year the fleadh has been held in Cavan and the county manager is supportive of the event but this is a new concept. We had the fleadh in Clonmel three years in a row more than a decade ago. The fleadh generates €30 million for the economy and it is right to embrace the wider arts. There is a vibrant arts officer in Cavan and she brought in more people involved in different forms of the arts such as live art and modern art, which was viewable in churches and other grounds and outdoor exhibitions. It was wonderful and these events will continue when the fleadh takes place in Derry next year. I wish those involved great success as it will the first year the fleadh will be held across the Border in the 60 years of its existence.

Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú is director general of CCE and I must compliment his wife, Úna Bean Uí Mhurchú, for the work she has done in the Brú Ború cultural centre in Caiseal Mumhan, Contae Thiobraid Árann. Gach samhradh, tá rince, ceol agus craic agus baineann a lán daoine an taitneamh as an chomhluadar sin. Many foreign groups visit the centre and the Brú Ború group has travelled the world and done tremendous work abroad on behalf of Irish culture, heritage and tourism.

We were at a presentation about The Gathering in the Leinster House audiovisual room. I encourage co-operation with Ceoltas and other groups throughout the country that have done so much. They should be facilitated by the Government and others in assisting with The Gathering. They have the contacts and the appeal of shows such as Riverdance.

The Brú Ború Cultural Centre has a wonderful archive operating on a shoestring budget, with assistance from FÁS. It is the vision of Úna Bean Uí Mhurchú and has done tremendous work in preserving the archive and much of our folklore, history, family names and traditions in Tipperary and beyond. I hope it will be embraced in the National Archives. Painstaking work has been done over the course of two decades by students who seek careers as archivists. They have not received the recognition they deserve.

Business to Arts and Philanthropy Ireland must work together to get value for money. I have no hangups about people of wealth or business people engaging in philanthropy. As a small-time organiser involved in boards and initiatives in my community, I have often approached business people - without discussion about philanthropy - and asked upfront for donations. This may have been to help a naíonra, a gaelcholáiste, an arts festival or a community festival. They always gave the money up front and willingly. Many of them did not want their names to be known or did not want to benefit from sponsorship.

The Minister has another problem with the sponsorship by drink companies in the area that the former Minister of State, Deputy Shortall, worked. The companies get bang for their buck but we cannot close the door on it. Sporting organisations and other groups cannot be left to swing and told that we have changed and moved on. This must be dealt with delicately and we must also deal with the multiples in the way they sell and market drink. The drinks companies have given good value for money to community groups and national sporting organisations.

Compared to our nearest neighbours, Irish people are very generous. We have become more generous since the recession. We have a proud record of being missionary people all over the world. With the proper education and encouragement, we will give more to the arts. People recognise this as a valuable part of our heritage, ár dúchas. I compliment South Tipperary Count Council on its involvement in projects before and during the Celtic tiger. The per cent for arts scheme was very good but I am disappointed with the reaction of the Minister for Justice and Equality to the fact that so many artistic features have been attacked, stripped down and melted for scrap. Many Members on the Government benches supported my Bill to deal with this but there is no sign of a Government Bill to address the point. Our arts, our artistic features, our heritage and our protected buildings are under attack. These are all part of the artistic scene. Not only is it a savage blow to the artists who created features, in many cases plebiscites had been held to decide on the artistic feature. There is great interest from artists, who make submissions on what artistic feature should be chosen. After they are commissioned, completed and unveiled, for them to be violently taken down in the matter of minutes with machinery, then taken away, melted and sold with no traceability is an appalling attack and a shame. It undoes the good work of the per cent for art scheme and has a devastating affect on the artist. In County Laois, a memorial for young people who had been killed in the community was attacked by cowardly gangsters, who have respect for neither man nor beast. They destroyed this feature and melted it down for sheer naked greed.

It is timely to have statements today but we would not have had the debate but for the flight of the earls on the Government jet to Brussels. The Government jet could not take them all so they had to fly on Aer Lingus. I wish them a speedy trip and a safe journey back but it is an ill wind that blows no good.

I am pleased to contribute to this topic and I congratulate the Minister on his work in the area. I consulted the Philanthropy Ireland website and came across a nice definition:

Philanthropy is a particular kind of charitable giving. It is focused on the root causes of problems and making a sustainable improvement, as distinct from contributing to immediate relief. Philanthropy is not the exclusive preserve of very wealthy people [which is important]. Money is given with a degree of reflection and a clear purpose.

That is a useful definition. What do we mean when we talk about the arts and putting philanthropy and the arts together? When we think about the arts we think about visual art, such as photography, paintings and sculpture, and the literary arts, such as poetry, novels and short stories, and the performing arts, such as music, dance, mime, theatre, opera and film. It is creative. One definition described it as being food for the soul, which is a nice way of describing the arts. The previous speaker referred to bronze sculptures being stolen. Such sculptures are put there for a purpose and are very often beautiful. Art entertains us and challenges us and we enjoy it. It is food for the soul in many ways.

Artistic people are creative and they give of their time and talent to put in place the arts. Trying to marry philanthropy, the practice of charitable giving and getting people to donate, and art is very important. The Minister said that Ireland is one of the great philanthropic countries but I do not agree. The Ireland Funds says that, although philanthropy has grown rapidly in the past decade, it is still in its infancy here. We can compare giving in Ireland to giving in other countries, such as the United States, where there are over 1 million public charities and where three out of four people donate, 16 million people sit on non-profit boards and 65 million people volunteer regularly. Some $300 billion was given to charity last year. There is a tradition and culture of charitable foundations in the United States. It has some 101,000 foundations, compared to 9,000 in the UK and 26 in Ireland. The scale of population is different but the Minister may agree we have a long way to go.

We must also consider that the St. Vincent de Paul and other organisations are included in philanthropy.

Of course, but we have a long way to go in this matter. The Forum on Philanthropy and Fundraising brought up interesting suggestions, which other colleagues mentioned. I am particularly interested in its fiscal and infrastructure recommendation in its report, which referred to charities regulation: "The Charities Act of 2009 should be speedily implemented, with the establishment of the Regulator on an administrative basis, supported by an implementation forum drawn from the sector and relevant professions." That should be done speedily.

People in the sector are concerned about the lack of regulation. The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality, which I chair, has called for submissions from interested groups, organisations and individuals on how this might be done. The committee intends to do a piece of work on the regulation of charities. We do not want to see bogus charities collecting money, with no accountability or governance.

Philanthropy Ireland, which has a section on arts and culture, says, "arts and culture form part of the fabric of Irish society". It goes on to say how many organisations, as well as individual artists and cultural practitioners, make up the arts and culture sector. Most cultural organisations can be classified as small and medium-sized enterprises and have fewer than ten full-time employees. Philanthropy Ireland maintains that the area is fragmented by nature. It gives an example of an organisation called Business to Arts, which can be consulted independently without cost by people who want to make a philanthropic gift.

A previous speaker said he had a passion for Irish music. If we feel passionate about something, we are inclined to give to it. Philanthropy Ireland maintains that the majority of arts and culture donors invest in their passions. They engage with and invest in cultural organisations that have had an impact on their lives. These cultural organisations are clear about their purpose, mission, vision and values and have been successful in connecting with their audiences and investors. Philanthropy Ireland goes on to talk about the importance of sound governance, accountability and transparency in these organisations.

That is why the regulation of charities is important and is something we should move on quickly, if we can. The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality is seeking submissions on this area. We are interested in all charities, and not only those that donate to the arts. There are numerous charities in the country.

There is a need to increase awareness of the arts in schools, youth organisations and society. Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann has a vibrant group in Youghal. I know Deputy McLellan will agree with me in this. I attended an event by the group during the summer and was impressed by the delight, joy and pride in the eyes of the young people as they performed. One could not but be swept up by their enthusiasm and by the pleasure of the audience. Those young people have a gift for life. When our young people become involved in any form of art, we are passing on a gift to them. That is why it is important to encourage the arts, and awareness of the arts, in schools and youth organisations. Art is food for the soul.

Young people can spend much of their time on the Internet and playing computer games. Involvement in the arts gives them a richness and value that is far better than that. Of course, artistic talent is valued and sought in the area of computers and gaming. Creativity is important there too.

I congratulate the Minister on the work he is doing. I hope his initiatives in this area go well. Perhaps, in 12 months time he will report to the House on how his initiatives have worked out.

I am glad to have an opportunity to make a short contribution to these statements on philanthropy and the arts. Philanthropy has had a positive effect on arts and culture in Ireland.

George Bernard Shaw said, "I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can". This is what philanthropy is all about. It is an opportunity to help people and organisations and to develop community and charity work.

In recent weeks, Mr. Chuck Feeney was awarded honorary degrees by the universities of Ireland in recognition of his philanthropic nature and his generous donations to Irish institutions. Since 1982, Mr. Feeney's organisation, Atlantic Philanthropies, has donated almost €800 million to Irish universities, funding a wide range of facilities, from college buildings to research projects in science, engineering, medicine, technology, business and law. The 81 year old New Jersey born Irish American is one of the world's greatest philanthropists. Since its foundation in 1982, Atlantic Philanthropies has given grants of about €5 billion.

Last June, a Fianna Fáil motion before the House endorsed the positive contribution a thriving arts and culture sector makes to Irish society. The motion acknowledged the value of our cultural heritage and recognised the impact on the economy and jobs of our wider arts sector, contributing €4.7 billion to the economy and directly and indirectly supporting 79,000 jobs. It noted that between 2005 and 2010 alone, more than €1.1 billion was invested in the sector and highlighted that these funds facilitated a transformation in our national, regional and community arts and cultural infrastructure, performance venues and film and television production capacity.

Philanthropy Ireland describes philanthropy as a particular kind of charitable giving. It is focused on the root causes of problems and on making a sustainable improvement, as distinct from contributing to immediate relief. Philanthropy for arts and culture is underdeveloped in Ireland compared with other sectors and with other countries, especially the United States. While we have a deserved reputation for charitable giving, it tends to be in the area of crises and emergencies. Notwithstanding the recession, charitable donations increased by almost a quarter between 2009 and 2010.

Ireland's contribution to charitable donations is high. According to figures released last year, 89% of Irish adults give to charity, compared with 58% in the UK and 40% in Germany. However, Irish business lags well behind businesses in other states in targeted philanthropy. Just 0.1% of the profits of Ireland's top 500 companies makes it way to the philanthropic territory.

Recently, there have been stronger links between social entrepreneurship and philanthropy. There is a need for these ideas to work together. The aim is to promote social enterprise. I hope the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation will develop this model further which will create a demand for jobs in Ireland.

Social entrepreneurs are unreasonable people. They are the mavericks who refuse to accept the status quo. They look at the world, are dissatisfied with what they see, and resolve to change it. They are both dreamers and doers; imagining a brighter future and setting about turning that dream into a reality. They are true entrepreneurs; innovators who are passionate and resourceful, who are prepared to take risks and who apply their energy, drive and ambition to effecting social change in Ireland.

That statement was made by Social Entrepreneurs Ireland and it highlights the need to promote and encourage social enterprise as well as promoting philanthropy in Ireland. How can we push social entrepreneurship further? We need further communication with all stakeholders. The position of social entrepreneurship needs to be at the forefront of Government policy. Procurement issues may be analysed to get the best practice and costing for social entrepreneurs in Ireland. There needs to be further support from the Government for social enterprise and there needs to be an alignment of social entrepreneurship moving towards the stewardship of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, with an increase in linkages and support and a sense that the social entrepreneurship sector has the potential to grow and prosper.

With the right perception and growth in support networks from Government and stakeholders alike, social entrepreneurship can act as a barometer for employment, improve aspects of the community and reinforce social entrepreneurship aims of working towards achieving a social goal. Ireland's positioning is vital to enhance and embrace social entrepreneurship and with the right supports for agencies such as Social Entrepreneurs Ireland and Clann Credo from Government Departments there might be a chance to grow the sector, so Ireland can be seen as at the forefront of social enterprise and, potentially, could provide a learning curve for other countries to follow.