I understand that the source of the reference to 0.6% of GDP quoted by the Deputy 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 is not standardised and is 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. 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.
In Budget 2017, I secured a series of funding increases across the arts and cultural bodies under my remit. These 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;
- an additional €1 million to the Heritage Council; and
- a new funding stream of €5m for the implementation of a Culture 2025 /Ireland 2016 Legacy Programme, details of which I will be announcing shortly.
These increases will have a positive and distinct impact on arts provision around the country. I have retained the majority of the €18 million current funding which was provided for the 2016 Commemorations for arts and culture. It will, therefore, become part of the baseline figures for my Department, meaning that it will carry forward into future years.
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.