I move the following Revised Estimate:
Vote 33 - Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Revised)
That a sum not exceeding €376,236,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2020, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, including certain services administered by that Office, and for payment of certain subsidies and grants and that a sum not exceeding €3,435,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.
Is mór agam an deis seo a fháil inniu chun Meastacháin na Roinne Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta do 2020 a phlé. Tá an-áthas orm an deis seo a bheith agam labhairt faoi leithdháiltí agus tosaíochtaí na Roinne Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta do 2020. Is eol do na Teachtaí gur le na meáin, turasóireacht, ealaíona, cultúr, spórt agus an Ghaeltacht a bhaineann mo cheapachán. Tá réimsí cláir an-leathan agus an-éagsúil i gceist leis sin agus táim ag tnúth go mór le dul ina mbun agus iad a chur ar aghaidh le linn mo thréimhse mar Aire.
Today's appearance relates specifically to the 2020 Revised Estimates for the previous Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. I will therefore confine my remarks to those programme areas and ask that Deputies likewise confine any questions or clarifications they require to these areas. It should be noted that, in the newly created Department, my responsibilities will no longer include the heritage division, which will transfer to the new Department responsible for housing, local government and heritage where they will be the responsibility of my colleagues, the Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, and the Minister of State, Deputy Noonan. In addition, in the newly created Department my responsibilities will no longer include the islands, responsibility for which will transfer to the new Department responsible for social protection, community and rural development and the islands under my colleague, the Minister, Deputy Humphreys.
Déanfaidh an tAire Stáit, Teachta Calleary, agus mise araon tráchtanna gairide ar réimsí cláir aonair anois. Táimid sásta tuilleadh sonraí a thabhairt faoi aon ní ba mhaith leis na Comhaltaí a tharraingt anuas.
Over the past few months, we have all been witness to the devastating and unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 pandemic across all sectors of society and the economy. The arts and culture, heritage, language and islands sectors have suffered considerably in view of the audience-facing focus of much of their work. They will continue to experience difficult and challenging times long after many other sectors have returned to work. These sectors are an integral part of the fabric of society, particularly in rural areas where they support tourism, economic activity, and well-being. They represent a very important component of regional development. Myriad community, voluntary and not-for-profit entities typify these sectors and there is a very significant ecosystem of local and small enterprises, economic activity and regional employment dependent on these sectors. It is therefore imperative that we support these sectors through their vulnerability in the face of the Covid pandemic.
There has been extensive consultation with cultural bodies, the Arts Council, arts organisations and individual artists and arts practices since the commencement of the Covid-19 crisis. This engagement has made us all very aware of the challenges that artists have faced and also of the hugely important role that they have played in sustaining all of us in recent months. The recent announcement of a further investment of €25 million in arts and culture during 2020 reflects the significant role arts and culture play in our individual lives and across society as a whole. Many challenges lie ahead as we begin to exit from Covid-19 restrictions but there is a determination to ensure that we have a vibrant arts and culture sector to see us through these challenges and into the future.
Among the measures that will be introduced on foot of the additional funding will be new bursaries and commissions from the Arts Council, including supports for freelance artists and those looking to develop projects on a collaborative basis. The Department will provide supports for cultural centres, including local and regional museums, as well as for new online cultural and creative content to build on the success of programmes such as Ireland Performs, the "Other Voices: Courage" programme and Cruinniú na nÓg. The funding will ensure that the important role culture plays in contributing to our well-being at all times, and particularly in times of crisis, can be safeguarded and enhanced.
When account is taken of this additional funding of €25 million, a gross provision of €379.6 million is available to the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in 2020, representing an increase of 12% on the comparable allocation for 2019. An additional €3.4 million in funding has been carried over from the 2019 capital provision for expenditure on priority projects in accordance with the provisions of public financial procedures.
In broad terms, the 2020 breakdown of allocations to the Vote is as follows. Just under €218 million is allocated for culture. This includes €100 million for the Arts Council, €48.9 million for the national cultural institutions, €21 million for Screen Ireland, €9.5 million for cultural infrastructure and development and €14.8 million for regional museums, galleries, cultural centres and projects. Some €62.6 million is allocated for the conservation and protection of Ireland's built and natural heritage. This includes: €13.7 million for natural heritage; €10 million for peatlands restoration, conservation and management, including €5 million from the carbon tax fund; just over €6.6 million for the Heritage Council; and just over €6.8 million for built heritage including the very successful built heritage investment scheme and the Irish Heritage Trust.
There is €58 million for the Irish language, the Gaeltacht and the islands, including €23.7 million for Údarás na Gaeltachta, just under €9 million for the islands and €3.7 million for the 20-year strategy for the Irish language. There is also just over €41 million for North-South co-operation, including support for two North-South implementation bodies, Waterways Ireland and An Foras Teanga.
The gross allocation for the Department in 2020 is 12% higher than the comparable figure in 2019 and allows for increases in funding across a range of bodies under the Department’s remit, as well as increases in funding for a number of culture, heritage and Gaeltacht schemes. This increased funding is targeted at a number of key initiatives. In the case of the culture programme, 2020 funding is 15% higher than the 2019 equivalent. Of its priorities, Arts Council funding is up by 33% to €100 million, including €20 million in response to the Covid pandemic. Among the measures that will be introduced will be new bursaries and commissions, including supports for freelance artists and those looking to develop projects on a collaborative basis. With this funding, the arts sector will be stabilised in 2020, art will continue to be created, artists will be employed and the public will continue to have access to the arts, sometimes in new and imaginative ways.
Funding for our national cultural institutions amounts to €48.9 million in total. Since the lockdown began on 12 March, these institutions have done a wonderful job in responding to the Covid crisis by providing online content of the highest quality on their websites. Clearly, this is no substitute for being able to visit a gallery, library or museum and I am delighted that most of these institutions have now reopened to the public, albeit with a slightly different visitor experience on offer. Those yet to reopen, such as the National Concert Hall, face somewhat different challenges as a consequence of the Covid crisis, but I have no doubt that they will overcome these challenges and welcome patrons across their thresholds again before too much longer.
There is dedicated funding of just under €15 million for regional museums, galleries, cultural centres and projects to provide robust supports that ensure their viability and sustainability and secure new online cultural and creative content. Funding of €12.5 million, including €3 million carried over from 2019, in respect of cultural infrastructure and development will ensure that momentum is maintained in the delivery of a suite of ambitious capital programmes and projects as part of Project Ireland 2040.
Fís Éireann, or Screen Ireland, is to receive additional funding of €1 million. It follows the Government’s decision to extend the section 481 film tax credit to 2024 and the regional uplift of 5%, which provides an additional incentive to increase Irish and international production across the regions. These measures are in line with the audiovisual action plan, which sets out the Government’s ambition to make Ireland a global hub for the production of film, television drama and animation.
Also under the culture heading, an additional €900,000 is being made available for 2020's decade of centenaries programme. This will enable the delivery of a significant programme of commemorative events, including Bloody Sunday on 21 November and the execution of Kevin Barry on 1 November, in an appropriate and meaningful manner consistent with the advice of the expert advisory group. While the restrictions necessarily imposed as part of the Covid-19 crisis management measures will potentially require a reimagining of the commemorative events originally envisaged, it remains critical that all pivotal moments in the history of our nation continue to be remembered in an appropriate and meaningful way.
Funding for the heritage programme in 2020 is €62.6 million, an increase of 16% on the 2019 allocation. The largest increase in the programme is in respect of peatlands restoration, conservation and management, where an increase of €2 million, or 67%, plus a further €5 million from the carbon tax fund will result in an allocation of €10 million for 2020 compared to the 2019 allocation of €3 million. This increased funding will allow for an accelerated programme of peatlands restoration and conservation works, resulting in 1,800 ha of restored peatland in 2020, the generation of 100 jobs in the midlands and ultimately the storage of 28 million tonnes of carbon. Restoration and rehabilitation of raised bogs will provide multiple additional ecosystem services, such as water and air quality improvements, flood mitigation, biodiversity enhancement and opportunities for tourism development, and contribute to the social and economic well-being of local communities.
An additional €1 million is being provided in 2020 to accelerate key nature conservation and biodiversity programmes under the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Funding for the farm plan programme is being doubled in 2020 to €1 million to support measures to protect biodiversity and assist farmers with lands designated as special areas of conservation in their role as custodians of nature.
Also under the heritage programme, Ireland’s national parks and reserves will continue to be supported, including the tourism interpretative master plan, under which the Government is investing to enhance visitor centre experiences and facilities in 2020. These parks and reserves have provided a welcome refuge to many during the past few months when restrictions on movement limited travel and interaction. It was a welcome reunion with the wealth of natural beauty on their doorstep and it is critical that these wonderful natural amenities continue to be available in their optimum iteration for all who wish to enjoy them.
Labhróidh an tAire Stáit, an Teachta Calleary, faoi na gnéithe a bhaineann leis an nGaeilge, an nGaeltacht agus na hoileáin.