Thursday, 20 October 2016

Questions (33, 35, 46)

Mick Wallace

Question:

33. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs her views on the post-commemorations relative decrease in funding to the arts, in particular the impact this could have on regional and community arts groups; if, with regard to the planned Culture 2025 programme, she has any concerns over the use of economic markers to assess cultural or artistic value; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31015/16]

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Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

35. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs her plans for bringing arts funding up to 0.6% of GDP in line with the EU average; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31154/16]

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Mick Barry

Question:

46. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs her reasons for not retaining funding into 2017 in view of the positive experience of a modestly increased arts and culture budget for 2016 and in view of the lower than European average funding the State gives to the arts and culture; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31143/16]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 33, 35 and 46 together.

I have retained the majority of the €18 million current funding which was provided for the 2016 Commemorations for reallocation to arts and cultural purposes within my Department’s vote. It will, therefore, become part of the baseline figures for my Department, meaning that it will be carried forward into future years.

As I previously outlined, Budget 2017 will include

- an additional €5 million for the Arts Council, an 8% increase in its annual budget;

- increased funding for all of the National Cultural Institutions;

- an increase of €2 million for the Irish Film Board and €1 million for Culture Ireland; and

- an additional €1 million to the Heritage Council.

I have also secured a new funding stream of €5m for the implementation of a Culture 2025 /Ireland 2016 Legacy Programme, which will allow me to build on the positive legacy of the Ireland 2016 commemorations. I will be announcing details of this new initiative shortly.

All of this represents real and substantial funding increases across the arts and cultural area and has been welcomed across the sector. It also re-affirms the commitment of this Government to progressively increase funding for the arts as the economy improves, as set out in the Programme for a Partnership Government.

It should be noted that, the majority of the €49 million allocation to my Department for this year’s Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme was capital funding that went towards a series of ‘Permanent Reminder’ projects, including the new ‘Witness History’ visitor centre at the GPO, the refurbishment of Richmond Barracks, the Kevin Barry Rooms at the National Concert Hall and the Athenaeum in Wexford. With the completion of the various ‘Permanent Reminder’ projects, the capital funding provided for them will not be required in 2017. The projects themselves will, of course, continue to be a positive and lasting legacy for the people of Ireland.

With regard to the reference to 0.6% of GDP quoted, I understand that the source of this is a Council of Europe research project and that many European countries, including ten EU member states, are not included in the data. I understand also that the data are not standardised and are not comparable across countries. For example, local authority expenditure on the arts, the artists' exemption tax relief, expenditure on public service broadcasting and the Irish language are not included in the figures for Ireland but comparable figures are included in the data for some other countries.

I have previously stated that further research on this issue is warranted and my Department is considering the matter at present. The issue of a definition of culture and of capturing public expenditure on culture is an element of the draft Culture 2025 framework policy, which was forwarded to the Oireachtas Committee on Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs for input in July last.