Thursday, 19 September 2019

Questions (16)

Niamh Smyth


16. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she has made observations and or submissions on the protection of cultural spaces in Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37878/19]

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Oral answers (4 contributions) (Question to Culture)

Has the Minister or her Department made observations or submissions in respect of the protection of cultural spaces in Dublin, and will she make a statement on the matter?

My Department provides significant capital support for the enhancement and protection of cultural spaces under Project Ireland 2040, the Government's long-term overarching strategy for investment in Ireland’s public infrastructure. Under the programme, the Department was allocated almost €1.2 billion for capital expenditure over a ten-year period to 2027. As the Deputy will be aware, in April 2018, I published Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage, 2018-2027, a ten-year plan setting out the detail of the Government's commitment for capital investment in Ireland’s culture, language and heritage as part of Project Ireland 2040. A significant focus for my Department over the next ten years will be on enhancing the cultural infrastructure in Dublin city, recognising the challenges our national cultural institutions have experienced over the past decade. Outside of the national cultural institutions investment programme, and as part of our wider investment in cultural infrastructure under Project Ireland, we also support a wide range of smaller projects in Dublin. Such projects are designed to ensure the ongoing sustainability of the existing cultural infrastructure and include projects such as the redevelopment of the Royal Irish Academy of Music in partnership with the Department of Education and Skills.

Responsibility for local cultural spaces rests in the first instance with local authorities, which are charged under section 10 of the Planning and Development Act with adopting a development plan that integrates the planning and sustainable development of the area with the social, community and cultural requirements of the area and its population. Adoption of the development plan is a reserved function of the local authority. While it would not be appropriate for me to comment on planning matters, my Department works closely with local authorities to support culture, creativity and heritage activities throughout Ireland, including in Dublin.

In April 2019, I held a symposium to investigate the possibility of creative nightlife and cultural activity after hours as an alternative and complementary option to Ireland's existing rich night-time experience. My Department has also worked with key partners to develop an approach to support a sustainable and forward-looking infrastructure to facilitate the development of after-hours cultural events.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House

It is my intention to establish pilot projects to identify how a night-time culture initiative might work in both urban and rural settings. To this end, my Department will approach a number of local authorities to establish a group comprising representatives from the relevant local authority, local creative nightlife sector, policing, transport, and artists and creative workers. The purpose of this group will be to consider and collate what supports and impediments currently have an impact on opportunities for creative and cultural activity at night, in different settings, and what would be required locally to develop, promote and encourage late-night culture. The groups will also consider the appropriateness of appointing local night-time commissioners.

In parallel to the structured research initiative, I intend to establish a national forum comprising my Department, the National Transport Authority, the Arts Council and several other Departments with important roles in developing night-time infrastructure. The committee will consider matters arising from the operation of the pilot local groups that could require a national policy or legislative response, which would, in turn, be referred to the relevant Department or agency for consideration.

I also intend to engage with local authorities and arts groups on a mapping exercise of existing venues and civic spaces that may be suitable for night-time cultural events to identify both gaps and opportunities.

The Minister met the organisers of the Give Us the Night campaign, who are concerned about the recent closure of the Bernard Shaw pub and the Tivoli Theatre. They feel that, bit by bit, our cultural capital and identity are being eroded by the loss of such venues to make way for hotels, student accommodation and apartment blocks.

We know the Government has not helped with the housing crisis. However, I appreciate that ultimately it is the work of the local authority and An Bord Pleanála. The Minister mentioned Project Ireland 2040 and providing investment of €40 million for cultural infrastructure nationwide, with a need to ensure regional balance. Outside the investment for our national institutions, what money is being spent on cultural spaces for our capital?

Under the arts and culture capital scheme, funding of €10.214 million was awarded to a total of 134 arts organisations across the country. With regard to the Deputy's specific question, I have allocated an amount up to €3 million in principle to Dublin City Council for capital development works for studio workspaces to match funding provided under the urban regeneration development fund on sites owned by the city council. This level of investment will greatly benefit the artists in the area and address the deficit in artist workspaces in Dublin city. The Deputy acknowledged that this is primarily up to local authorities and councillors, who have a function with respect to artist studios and spaces. We are working in collaboration and there are discussions on what else we can do to help artists with the space they have to be creative.

Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.