Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Questions (598, 607)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

598. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she will comment on the fact that according to Council of Europe data from 2012, Ireland spent just 0.11% of GDP on culture and the arts compared to a European average of 0.6% of GDP; the steps she will take to address this under investment; her plans to publish the Culture 2025 strategy document; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12940/16]

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Joan Burton

Question:

607. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if the Government will commit to the long-term goal of increasing arts funding to the European average of 0.6% of GDP. [13594/16]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 598 and 607 together.

The Programme for a Partnership Government contains a very important commitment to work to progressively increase funding to the arts, including the Arts Council and the Irish Film Board, as the economy continues to improve.

I can assure the Deputy that I will be engaging with my colleagues in Government and with the Oireachtas to seek to advance this commitment in the context of the forthcoming estimates and budgetary processes.

The figures quoted from the Council of Europe are from a project called Compendium - Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe. I understand that many European counties are not included in the figures, including ten EU member states. The data for the Compendium project are provided by independent researchers and it is not a standardised system for collection of statistics.

I further understand that the Compendium itself warns that data provided by the researchers are not comparable across countries because each researcher includes different elements in the definition of culture and these elements are reflected in the figures for public expenditure. Figures can also include some, or all, of national, regional or local expenditure.

The issue of a definition of culture and of capturing public expenditure on culture is one which was discussed in the public consultation process that was held for the purpose of developing Ireland's first national cultural policy, Culture 2025. This will be reflected in the draft policy document which I intend to submit to Government for consideration in the coming weeks.

Expenditure on the arts in Ireland comes from multiple sources, both public and private. I understand that the CSO does not produce national statistics that capture the totality of this expenditure as a percentage of GDP. However, I do consider that further research on this issue is warranted in the context of Culture 2025.