Arts Funding

Questions (389)

Brendan Smith


389. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans to increase funding for projects (details supplied) in 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52487/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

Under Budget 2020, total funding for the arts and culture sector in 2020 will increase by over 2% from €189m to almost €193m. 

Primary support for the arts is delivered through the Arts Council. Funding for the Arts Council has increased in recent years and will reach €80 million in 2020.  This is an increase of €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.

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.

The Creative Ireland Programme is a five-year all-of-government, culture-based initiative, led by my Department, that emphasises the importance of human creativity for individual, community and societal wellbeing.  The vision of the Creative Ireland Programme is to position creativity at the heart of public policy, to enable, encourage and enhance collaboration and innovation, and to create opportunities for all citizens to engage with all forms of creative activity.

The main source of funding for local community events and activities under the Creative Ireland Programme is Pillar 2: Creative Communities'.  In 2019, total funding of €3m was allocated to all 31 local authorities (approximately €96,000 each) to enable them to support an extensive programme of activities, events and initiatives in each county.  Each local authority has established a Creative Ireland Co-coordinator and a local Culture Team to manage and allocate this funding in accordance with local needs and in line with their own, individual 5-year Culture and Creativity Strategy. Nearly 1,500 projects were funded nationwide in 2019 covering a broad range of topics including archaeology, architecture, biodiversity, crafts, heritage, drama, dance, literature, music, storytelling and the visual arts.

In addition to this core funding, the Creative Ireland Programme allocated approximately €15,000 to each local authority outside of Dublin and €75,000 each to the four local authorities in Dublin to develop a special programme of events for Cruinniú na nÓg – the national day of creativity for children and young people which was held in June.

It is anticipated that funding will be made available to local authorities in 2020 to enable them to further implement their Culture and Creative Strategies and to deliver Cruinniú na nÓg. Details of allocations to individual local authorities will be announced shortly. Further information on the Creative Ireland Programme can be found on its website as follows:

The Arts and Culture Capital Scheme 2016 - 2018 focused on the refurbishment and enhancement of the existing stock of arts and culture facilities throughout the country. Funding of €10.214m was allocated to 134 projects under three complementary grant streams. Funding was provided to a range of facilities, including arts centres, theatres, galleries and museums, as well as artists’ studios and creative spaces.  A number of grants were allocated to the projects within the regions to which the Deputy refers.

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that I recently announced a new €4.7m capital investment scheme for arts and culture centres across the country.  Applications are now being invited for the Cultural Capital Scheme which will run from 2019-2022.  The Scheme will focus on enhancing the existing stock of arts and culture centres that operate as not-for-profit organisations throughout the country and that have a clearly defined arts and culture focus.  Full details of this scheme including detailed guidelines can be found on my Department's website.

A particular focus of the new scheme will be its emphasis on the reduction of carbon footprints to dovetail with the Government’s action on climate change.  Projects providing additional capacity for artists and artistic production particularly in arts centres will also be favoured.  This funding is provided from a €40m capital investment allocation for local arts and culture infrastructure contained in Project Ireland 2040 “Investing in our Culture, Language & Heritage 2018-2027'.  

This scheme has been informed by the recently published strategic Review of Arts Centres and Venues by  the Arts Council & the County and City Management Association as well as the Arts Council's published  Arts Centre Policy and Strategy 2019 which sets out its funding criteria for arts centres from 2020 onwards.

Budget Targets

Questions (390)

Peter Burke


390. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the level of expenditure that will need to be achieved in budget 2025 to deliver upon the commitment that such expenditure will be doubled relative to outrun in 2017. [52517/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

As Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, I greatly welcome the commitment to increase Government spending in the arts and culture sector on a trajectory that will see funding doubled by 2025.  My Department and I continue to work rigorously with an Taoiseach and all of my Government colleagues towards delivering on this commitment.

In general, funding allocations fall to be determined annually as part of the Estimates process.  The Budget 2020 allocation for my Department of €354.3 million represents a cumulative increase of 23% on the comparable 2017 REV allocation of €288.408 million.

Current funding for 2020 as per the Budget Estimates will exceed €273 million.  This represents an increase of 15% on 2017 current funding.

Capital funding for 2020 will be €81 million representing an increase of 59% compared to 2017.  The commitment by Government as part of Project Ireland 2040 to invest €1.2 billion in our culture, our language and our heritage over the 10-year implementation of the NDP will allow for further significant increases in the capital allocation for my Department over the coming years.

Details of the total expenditure (current and capital) incurred by my Department in 2017 are available in the Annual Appropriation Account for my Department which is published on the website of the Comptroller and Auditor General at:

The 2017 total outturn figure as per that account is €294.138m but that figure includes expenditure of €13.548m in respect of capital monies carried over for specific projects from 2016.  In real terms, the total expenditure from the 2017 REV allocation of €288.408m for my Department was €284.438m.

National Parks

Questions (391)

Tom Neville


391. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she will give consideration in the forthcoming Heritage 2030 document to considering the merits of creating a maritime national park providing an opportunity to explore and develop the maritime heritage. [52525/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

The 6 existing National Parks of Ireland account for circa 65,000 hectares with another almost 22,000 hectares of nature reserves and other heritage sites. The existing National Parks are managed from a conservation perspective, and attract in excess of 4 million visitors annually. Given the resources available for capital investment within our National Parks and Nature Reserves, I am ever mindful of the need to focus on the core responsibilities relating to the management of the existing Parks and Reserves lands and have no plans at present to increase the number of National Parks in the country.

As far as our marine heritage is concerned, it is protected by such designations as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Areas (SPA). It is worth noting that roughly 53% of SACs is land, the remainder being marine or large lakes. Ireland’s SPA Network encompasses over 570,000 hectares of marine and terrestrial habitats. The marine areas include some of the productive intertidal zones of our bays and estuaries that provide vital food resources for several wintering wader species including Dunlin, Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit. Marine waters adjacent to the breeding seabird colonies and other important areas for seaducks, divers and grebes are also included in the network.

As part of my Department’s continuing commitment and contribution to protecting our heritage and improving our tourism and recreation product, we have been exploring ways to optimise the sustainable potential of heritage sites under our control in a way that is compatible with conservation objectives.

In this context, it should be noted that in late 2016 my Department negotiated the extension of Wicklow Mountains National Park by purchasing almost 4,900 acres of Dublin Uplands at Glenasmole in 2016 at a cost of €800,000. The purchase underpins the Government’s on-going commitment to the preservation of our natural heritage for future generations of citizens and visitors alike to enjoy.

In 2017 the entire Wild Nephin area was consolidated into the ownership of the National Parks and Wildlife Service. This creates a State – Owned wilderness project of over 11,000 hectares and aims to provide increased nature conservation benefits and biodiversity as well as enhanced recreational and social benefits through the ‘re-wilding’ of the forest which adjoins the National Park. Thanks to the acquisition, we will be returning the area to a natural wilderness state.

My Department, in conjunction with Fáilte Ireland, launched a strategic partnership in 2017 with a view to growing tourism revenues in the rural areas where the parks are located and increasing Ireland’s appeal as a recreation destination. One of the outputs from the partnership with Fáilte was “Experiencing the Wild Heart of Ireland ” – an interpretative masterplan for the development of our National Parks and Reserves, which was published last year and sets out a road map for investment at these important nature conservation, public amenity and tourism sites and underpins the objectives of Project 2040 as well as Heritage 2030.

The investment in our National Parks will create memorable and meaningful experiences of Ireland’s landscapes, wildlife and culture. This will be done though sensitive design and the development of authentic experiences, providing better access to nature and an increased understanding of society’s conservation responsibilities, as well as supporting significant investment in recreational facilities, including upgrading and development of the trails network, increased visitor facilities and improved signage and branding. These will be designed and delivered with a strong emphasis on conservation and allow us to protect and preserve our most fragile environments and, by investing in our culture, language and heritage, provide a well-being benefit for all. In this regard, a provision of some €5million in funding, for 32 individual projects across the network of NPWS sites, was announced earlier this year as part of the Rural Regeneration Development Fund.

A whole host of proposals are currently under consideration for Heritage 2030, including increased investment in our heritage, improved access, and better quality of information, guidance and advice as a resource for stakeholders, visitors, researchers and general public. As a result, in the context of protecting marine biodiversity, we will certainly keep under consideration further maritime designations.