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.
I understand that the figures quoted by the Deputy are from a Council of Europe 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 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. For example, local authority expenditure on the arts, artists, exemption tax relief, expenditure on public service broadcasting and the Irish language are all examples of elements not included in the Council of Europe figures for Ireland but included in the figures for some other countries.
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.
The issue of a definition of culture and of capturing public expenditure on culture is one that was discussed in the public consultation process held for the purpose of developing Ireland's first national Cultural Policy Framework, Culture 2025. As I have previously stated, I do consider that further research on this issue is warranted in the context of Culture 2025.
The Programme for a Partnership Government commits to the publication of Culture 2025 as a priority. My Department is continuing to consider inputs on the draft document from the Steering and Expert Groups, which I established, and I expect to forward a draft for consideration to the relevant Oireachtas Committee shortly.