The Culture Ireland Division of my Department promotes Irish arts and artists worldwide through regular grant rounds and through special promotional initiatives. The total programme allocation in 2012 was €3.56m for projects worldwide and a further €780k was spent on projects which formed part of the Culture Connects Culture Programme to mark Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of European Union. I have allocated €3.166m to Culture Ireland as its annual allocation for 2013 and have given supplementary funding of a further €800k for delivery of the Culture Connects programme. The total spend to date in 2013 is €1.386m.
During 2012 the Culture Ireland Division operated three grant rounds under which applications for events were considered from Irish artists and international hosts. In all over 550 Irish cultural projects and events were supported in over 50 countries, ranging across music, theatre, dance, literature, film, visual art and architecture. This included significant projects such as a major international tour of DruidMurphy in the USA and England which culminated in the Director winning Best Director at the UK Theatre Awards
As Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht I led two of our largest and most important trade missions in 2012 -
- the Association of Performing Arts Presenters Conference [APAP], in New York, in January, a key target market for Irish artists which is of strategic importance in the development of US Irish cultural relations, and
- the performing arts showcase at the Edinburgh Festivals in August, an annual showcase which has proved a key platform for Irish performing artists and writers to present their work to international audiences as well as festival and venue promoters and programmers.
Furthermore, the Division, in partnership with the Arts Council, supported Ireland's participation in the Venice Architecture Biennale, the foremost platform for international showcasing of architecture. In January of this year, the Division supported a delegation of key theatre, dance and music practitioners to attend APAP 2013 in New York, as part of an Irish Government trade and promotional mission for the performing arts. The Irish artists who presented work in New York have reported strong future tour bookings for 2013/2014 as a result.
The International element of Culture Connects, the Culture Programme to mark Ireland's Presidency of the Council of European Union during the first 6 months of 2013, funded by the Culture Ireland Division of my Department has focused on Member States and priority countries, including Russia, Australia and China. The programme covers all art forms and provides a key platform to highlight the strength of Ireland's creative and artistic sector. Highlights of the Culture Programme include the opening concert in Brussels by The Gloaming, the Irish Chamber Orchestra in Berlin, the Eileen Gray exhibition in Centre Pompidou, Paris and the Changing States exhibition of Frances Bacon and contemporary artists in the Bozar Art Gallery in Brussels. Audience attendance has been strong and feedback and media coverage on Ireland’s Culture Programme has been very positive. In Berlin, for example, there were more than 1,200 attendees at the opening concert, visitor numbers to the Changing States art exhibition in Brussels have exceeded 8,000 and Centre Pompidou will attract approx 500,000 visitors during the period of the Eileen Gray exhibition.
My Department continues to support Irish artists in presenting work at strategic international festivals, venues and showcases, building touring networks and contacts. Just last week I announced the results of the most recent grant round, allocating funding of over €470,000 to Irish artists and organisations to present Irish arts abroad during the remainder of 2013 and early 2014. The Culture Ireland Division also continues to work on a cross-agency basis on key initiatives of joint interest. Over the 2013 St Patrick’s Day period, for example, it supported more than 60 events across Europe, the US, China, Russia and Australia.
I am satisfied that my Department's international promotion of Irish arts has created significant goodwill and influence for Ireland and has helped to contribute to the strength of Ireland's reputation for creative excellence. Full details of each individual project funded by the Culture Ireland Division of my Department can be found on www.cultureireland.ie.