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Arts Policy

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 22 June 2021

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Questions (61, 98)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

61. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media further to Question No. 226 of 20 May 2021, the details of the independent arts evaluation organisation tasked with carrying out the monitoring and evaluation framework of Galway 2020; if the report by this independent arts evaluation organisation which is due by quarter 4 of 2021 will include a detailed audit of the finances of Galway 2020 including a breakdown of the way the moneys were spent; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33290/21]

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Catherine Connolly

Question:

98. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media further to Question No. 56 of 6 May 2021, the details of the Galway 2020 legacy initiatives to which the remaining €1 million departmental commitment will be allocated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33292/21]

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Oral answers (8 contributions) (Question to Tourism)

As I understand Question No. 61 will be taken with Question No. 98, I specifically am asking for the details of the independent arts evaluation organisation tasked with carrying out the monetary and evaluation framework of Galway 2020. Tied in with that, I am asking for details of the legacy initiatives from Galway 2020. I am aware that a meeting was held as far back as November 2020 on the legacy details. Can the Minister update me on that?

I propose to take Questions Nos. 61 and 98 together.

The Audience Agency is the independent arts evaluation organisation tasked with carrying out the evaluation under the Galway 2020 monitoring and evaluation framework. The Audience Agency was awarded the contract following a competitive tender process advertised on etenders.gov.ie. The Audience Agency is a registered charity. It is funded by Arts Council England as a cultural sector support organisation. It is an experienced and internationally recognised monitoring and evaluation organisation whose mission is to enable cultural organisations to use data to increase their relevance, reach and resilience.

The monitoring and evaluation framework, developed in consultation with stakeholders, including my Department, provides for review of Galway 2020 project in terms of how it developed Galway’s cultural capacity, delivered the programme rooted in people and place; and the social and economic benefit accruing. The final monitoring and evaluation report, scheduled for delivery in quarter 4 this year, will include results on the number of cultural organisations supported, the jobs created to deliver the programme, new projects commissioned, events held, audience numbers and a breakdown of the total income and expenditure.

It is not within the remit of the monitoring and evaluation framework report to carry out an audit of Galway 2020 finances. Galway 2020, as a registered company and charity, complies with all statutory and regulatory reporting requirements set out under the Companies Act 2014 and the Charities Act 2009, including the annual lodging of an audited financial statement with the Companies Registration Office and the Charities Regulator.

On the question of Galway 2020 legacy initiatives, Galway 2020 will, in the coming months, commence a focused stakeholder consultation process with creative, community, business, Government and European stakeholders. This consultation process, together with the report from the monitoring and evaluation framework, will inform the development of a sustainable strategic legacy plan for Galway 2020. This legacy plan is due to be finalised before the end of the year.

The remaining €1 million from my Department's overall funding commitment of €15 million for Galway 2020 will contribute to the implementation of the legacy plan.

Galway 2020 supported a wide range of local artists and cultural organisations to create, develop and deliver original works. Close to €15 million or 66% of the overall expenditure of €22 million to date by Galway 2020 on delivery of its year as European Capital of Culture has been spent on cultural programme delivery. Over 500 events employing at least 600 artists and other cultural professionals, such as producers, technicians and crew, have been delivered. Cultural project partners are in the process of completing individual post-project evaluations. Artists and cultural organisations funded included Druid Theatre, Branar children’s theatre company, Ealaín na Gaeltachta, Galway Theatre Festival, Blue Teapot Theatre Company, Galway Community Circus, Baboró children’s festival, Trish Forde, Galway Film Fleadh, Ríonach Ní Néill, NUIG Aistriú, Galway International Arts Festival, Macnas, Music for Galway, Galway Dance Project, Máirtín O’Connor, Galway UNESCO City of Film, Galway hospital trust and Galway City Museum.

The data from post-project evaluations are being collated to provide comprehensive information on key project deliverables for each artist or cultural organisation, including income and expenditure, numbers employed, numbers of events held, level of audience engagement, partnerships developed, outcomes and possible legacy opportunities. This information will be used to inform the overall monitoring and evaluation framework for Galway 2020. That will be delivered in quarter 4 this year. As an indication of the level of delivery, I can advise that the seven post-project evaluations completed document that 374 artists and other culture professionals were supported to deliver 188 combined live and online performances and Galway Community Circus, as part of its projects, delivered 93 professional and 95 public training workshops.

I think there is a little discretion because two questions are being taken together.

Unusually, both questions in the group are from Deputy Connolly.

Yes. I think the rule is that a little discretion is shown if a Deputy goes over one minute. I thank the Minister. One of the advantages of being Leas-Cheann Comhairle is that I have a copy of the Minister's answer but she read an additional answer that I do not have. She might supply me with that because the answer I have is a basic one. I welcome what she has set out but I would like the details.

This is something I have followed up. Galway 2020 was the most marvellous thing that happened to the city but the roll-out was not so marvellous. Covid and bad weather interfered but, separate from that, there were huge issues related to staff, legal proceedings and the absence of transparency and accountability. The Department took a lead in this and ensured, finally, that there was a performance delivery agreement. There was no question of a legacy. That came about through pressure, including from me, and eventually a committee was set up to look at the legacy.

The two questions were tabled together. I thank the Minister for her response, which is as comprehensive as it can be without providing more details. We need to see the breakdown of the total of €15 million given by the Department. It is a substantial amount of money. Presumably, that breakdown will come with the accounts, which I understand will be finished in June this year. Then there is the Audience Agency. Perhaps the Minister can tell me how much it is costing to carry out this evaluation. I would expected evaluation and monitoring by the Department to be an inherent part of the ongoing process. Then there is the legacy. The Minister will have a consultation about the legacy over the coming year, when Galway 2020 is over.

I will supply the information the Deputy seeks in relation to the extra notes. The legacy planning is a key element of all European Capitals of Culture and an important aspect, as the Deputy pointed out, of Galway 2020. Legacy planning involves taking stock of learnings from the delivery of the European Capital of Culture, incorporating the successes and building on these for the future. The Galway 2020 monitoring evaluation report and stakeholder consultation will be initiated later in the summer and will feed into the development of the strategic legacy plan.

Galway 2020 is working with a number of upcoming European Capitals of Culture on initiatives, such as the inclusion of projects from Galway 2020 in their programmes, thereby creating additional opportunities for Galway 2020 artists to foster sustainability in their careers and contributing further to meeting the objectives of the European Capital of Culture programme.

The performance delivery agreement between my Department and Galway 2020 was signed on 6 November 2018 and addresses the roles and responsibilities of the Department and Galway 2020 in the provision and expenditure of the grant as well as key deliverables and performance indicators attached to the drawdown of the grant. That agreement will expire on 1 July 2021. While this is under discussion, the agreement will likely be extended to year end, at least.

On the Deputy's query about costs, I can get back to her. I think she may have another question. I am happy to talk to her afterwards.

The best legacy we would all like to see would be a basic income for artists. We think of the amount of money that went into Galway 2020, without a basic income for artists. That issue will come up later in another question.

On buildings, I would love to see what we are getting from Galway 2020. Has progress been made on the An Post building? I think it has but the Minister might clarify that. We have a former industrial school which has remained vacant since 2009, although there is a dispute as to whether it was 2011. That is the wonderful Lenaboy site, which is lying idle. It formed part of the redress from the nuns; it was not a gift but part of the redress.

My problem with this is the legacy seems to be an afterthought, like the Irish language. The Irish language officer was an afterthought and the first person to be let go when the troubled descended on Galway 2020. I would have thought the legacy would be an integral part of Galway 2020, not something that came from pressure from Deputies and other sources when a committee was finally set up to determine what the legacy would be.

There are a number of questions there. It will be difficult for me to answer them in the minute available but I am happy to provide the Deputy with all the information she wants and to be as transparent as possible.

I absolutely agree about the basic income guarantee for artists. A legacy and lesson to learn from Covid and from what we missed and enjoyed in Galway 2020 will be to support the arts.

On the An Post building, the redevelopment of the site is a matter for Galway County Council and An Post. The site is in the city centre and includes the city’s central post office and a number of buildings behind it that housed a former telephone exchange and now defunct sorting and storing offices. One of the vacant buildings in the complex on a laneway off the street was repurposed by the Galway International Arts Festival in 2019 and used as a temporary art gallery. A number of arts organisations participating in Galway 2020 used it for rehearsals. Under the An Post plan announced at the end of March 2021, a property developer will refurbish the existing post office, create a civic space and be free to use the rest for retail and commercial units. It is intended that, while An Post will still own the land, the redevelopment will be on a very long lease.

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