I propose to take Questions Nos. 7 and 29 to 31, inclusive, together.
My officials and I are not aware of a European Commission source of funding which contains €70 billion for investment in projects or actions specific to the creative economy. There are two European Union programmes operating in the areas for which I have responsibility. The MEDIA programme is the support programme for the European audiovisual industry, details of which are available at www.mediadeskireland.ie. The Culture programme is the EU support programme for organisations working in the field of culture, with details available at www.ccp.ie.
For the 2007-13 period, the allocation to the MEDIA programme is €755 million, with €400 million being allocated to the Culture programme, giving a total of €1.155 billion over seven years. A further figure of €1.8 billion refers to discussions currently under way between member states and the European Commission on a new framework programme for the cultural and creative sectors. This is intended to run from 2014 to 2020 and to be called the Creative Europe programme. It includes a proposal to amalgamate the current Culture and MEDIA programmes under a common framework and to create an entirely new facility to improve access to finance. Once the new programme is finalised, details of how to seek funding from it will be made available through appropriate information outlets.
It is not possible to estimate how much any country will receive from any of these programmes as the funds are not distributed on a pro rata basis. Calls for proposals are made periodically by the European Commission. Applications are then assessed by an independent body, currently the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency. Decisions on what support is provided are based on the relative merits of applications. There is no quota for each country, nor is a specific amount allocated to each.
I understand the directorate general for enterprise and industry in the European Commission issued a call more than a year ago for proposals for transnational co-operation projects on European cultural routes , with up to €100,000 available per project. The entire fund available for the programme was €500,000 and the closing date for applications under this call was 7 October 2011. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald may be referring in her question to a European Commission call for co-operation projects to create transnational tourism products based on cultural and industrial heritage. The closing date for this programme is 28 September 2012 and up to €700,000 may be available in total for all 27 member states through the directorate general for enterprise and industry. The application form and details of the criteria are available on the Commission’s website, europa.eu.
The Government appreciates and values the contribution the wider arts sector makes to the reputation of this country. Given the prevailing economic constraints, investment in the arts, culture and creative sectors is more important than ever, having regard to the employment intensity of the sector. The Deputies will be aware that a report, Assessment of the Economic Impact of the Arts in Ireland, published by the Arts Council in 2011 indicated that the arts sector provides significant direct and indirect employment, supporting some 21,300 jobs and contributing €306.8 million in taxes. The arts also affect the wider creative industries, which contribute €4.7 billion to the economy and support 79,000 jobs.
The heritage area is also increasingly identified as a primary stimulus in the tourism sector. My Department is committed to promoting greater appreciation and understanding of Ireland's rich heritage as a valuable amenity for business, farming and tourism and as a means of presenting Ireland as an attractive destination for sustainable inward investment. A report published by the Heritage Council last month indicates that Ireland's historic environment supports more than 35,000 jobs and contributes in the order of €1.5 billion to the national economy. It also indicates that one fifth of total visitor expenditure in Ireland is attributable to our historic environment.
Progression of the negotiations surrounding the Creative Europe initiative will almost certainly fall to the Irish Presidency of the EU. In pursuit of advancing the initiative, I have already been involved in numerous meetings with Ministers of culture from other member states, Members of the European Parliament and other European officials.