Primary support for the arts in Ireland is delivered by the Arts Council. Funding for the Arts Council has been increasing steadily in recent years and it will reach €80 million in 2020. The increase in 2020 is €5m or 6.7% over 2019. The Arts Council, which is independent in its funding decisions under the Arts Act 2003, operates within a published 10 year strategic framework entitled Making Great Art Work. This strategy prioritises support for artists throughout their careers, by the involvement of many agencies in cultural provision, by the impact of the arts on the creative economy, and by the depth and breadth of people's engagement with the arts.
The Arts Council supports over 600 artists and over 650 arts organisations that are in receipt of core and programming funding on an annual basis. The Arts Council reported in their 2018 Annual Report that, it spent €62.1 million in grant aid directly to organisations and artists. Bursaries totalling €1.8 million were given to individual artists and a further €1.8million went to local authorities to support key partnership arrangements. The Annual Report which is published on its website contains details of these allocations. I understand that this approach was maintained in 2019 and represents an investment in the work and development of artists.
Local authorities are the second-biggest funding organisation for the arts in Ireland. According to the Arts Council's 2018 Annual Report, their net investment was almost €40.1 million, an 8% increase on 2017 (€37.1 million), which in turn was a 7% increase on 2016 (€34.65 million). The Arts Council's relationship with local authorities is based on the ten-year strategic partnership agreement entitled A Framework for Collaboration 2016–2025. On the basis of this document, in 2018 both partners collaborate on various initiatives overseen by the Arts Council/Local Government Management Liaison Group and a Working Group. In 2018, the Arts Council provided up to €1.8 million to local authorities to support key partnership arrangements. Local authority funding to venues was maintained in 2018 and increased in some instances and were broadly maintained in 2019.
Film is one of the art forms that is in receipt of funding through Screen Ireland which is under the remit of my Department. In June 2018, I launched the Government's Audiovisual Action Plan. The Plan drew heavily on a Study prepared by international audiovisual consultants Olsberg SPI with Nordicity entitled Economic Analysis of the Audiovisual Sector in the Republic of Ireland which was also published in June. The report measured the economic value of the Irish audiovisual industry, and proposed policy changes to support its future growth. The report showed that the Irish audiovisual sector generated €1.05 billion in gross value added in 2016 and supported employment of 16,930 full-time equivalents of which 10,560 was direct employment. The largest contribution to employment came from the film, TV, and animation sub-sector, which generated 11,960 full-time equivalent jobs (FTEs) of employment of which just over 7,000 was direct employment such as cast and crew.
The audiovisual sector supports thousands of jobs of Ireland and there is significant potential for further growth in the years ahead. I recently published the First Progress Report on Implementation of the Audiovisual Action Plan.
This Government highly values the cultural, creative and economic potential of Ireland’s audiovisual industry and the report sets out the initiatives undertaken to date to make Ireland a global hub for TV drama, film and animation. Key achievements since the plan’s launch in June 2018 include: the extension of Section 481 Film tax relief until 2024, along with changes to improve the administration of the relief; the introduction of the Regional Film Development Uplift, which offers additional tax reliefs to incentivise film production in the regions; increased funding for Screen Ireland which has increased to over €21m for 2020 and will support increased investment in feature film and TV drama. These initiatives, together with a renewed emphasis on training and skills development in the audiovisual industry will continue to contribute to the growth of jobs in the sector.
The remit of Culture Ireland, a division of my Department, is to promote and advance Irish arts worldwide thus strengthening Ireland’s cultural profile and global reputation. Strategic priorities include providing support for the international presentation of Irish artists and arts organisations, developing new and diverse international audiences and markets for Irish arts, and linking culture into the Government’s international promotion strategy in tandem with other relevant Government Agencies. Critically, the work of Culture Ireland is focused not just on promoting Ireland but also increasing career opportunities for Irish artists.
Project Ireland 2040 is the Government’s long-term overarching strategy to make Ireland a better country and supports business and communities across all of Ireland in realising their potential. €1.2 billion of Project Ireland 2040 is allocated to the Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht sectors and has the potential to deliver very significant direct and indirect employment under the following investment proposals.
- €460 million for our National Cultural Institutions.
- €265 million for cultural and creativity investment programme
- €285 million for natural and built heritage
- €178 million for the Gaeltacht. The Irish language and the Islands.
The funding increase in 2020, despite the challenging economic and political climate, is testament to the Government's commitment to the arts, culture and heritage sector.