I congratulate the Chairman on his recent appointment and wish him every success in his role. As Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, I am pleased to have this opportunity to address the committee regarding the 2019 mid-year review of expenditure for my Department. The functions and responsibilities of my Department are many and diverse, ranging from support for the arts and culture, conservation and safeguarding of our heritage and language, to supporting sustainable island communities. This year has been a very busy one for my Department with many notable achievements, including a new impetus to the promotion of our culture and creativity both at home and abroad. The work of the agencies under the remit of my Department such as the Arts Council, our national cultural institutions and Screen Ireland, goes from strength to strength with innovative exhibitions, inclusive education and outreach programmes and an ever-growing diversity of creative engagement initiatives. In addition, ambitious capital investment projects as part of Project Ireland 2040 are either under way or planned at many of these agencies. A number of programmes and projects funded by or managed directly by my Department also continue to yield very positive results, including the work of Culture Ireland, the expansion of the per cent for arts scheme, the extension of the social welfare scheme for self-employed artists in conjunction with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, the expansion of the Creative Schools initiative in partnership with the Department of Education and Skills and the ongoing development of Cruinniú na nÓg, the first national day celebrating children and young people’s creativity.
The new national heritage plan, Heritage Ireland 2030, will guide our heritage priorities and investment over the next decade and beyond. In March of this year, a series of 70 public workshops on the plan came to a conclusion. There was an unprecedented level of response and engagement, with over 2,000 organisations and individuals making submissions on what heritage means to them. The need to address heritage impacts, the loss of biodiversity and the erosion of our heritage in general are very strong themes to emerge from this consultative process, as is a strong call for support for education and youth engagement with heritage. The analysis of the submissions is ongoing within my Department, laying the foundations for what will become the overarching policy for Ireland’s built and natural heritage for years to come.
In terms of our language and islands, good progress continues to be recorded on the implementation of the five year action plan for the Irish language. Supports for the Irish language and our Gaeltacht and island communities continue to be provided and enhanced to the greatest extent possible.
This year has also seen progress on a number of key projects under my Department's investment plan as part of Project Ireland 2040. I spoke to the committee earlier this year about the potentially transformative impact of this investment plan, bringing together all aspects of our culture and our heritage, built, natural and linguistic, under a single programme of investment with an holistic vision. As Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, I look forward to continuing progress under this investment plan and indeed across all strands of my Department's work programme during the remainder of the year and into future years.
In terms of my appearance here today, members have been provided with a report by my Department outlining details of performance and expenditure across all programme areas during the first half of 2019. The 2019 Revised Estimates provides for a gross allocation of just under €339
million for the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in 2019. In addition, a further €700,000
in capital funding was carried over from the 2018 provision. Gross total expenditure incurred by my Department in the period to 30 June 2019 was €153.2 million. This expenditure represents 94% of profiled expenditure and 45% of the overall 2019 gross allocation. In addition, the capital carry-over sum of €700,000 was expended in full. This expenditure has increased to €205.7 million as at 31 August 2019, representing 97% of profiled expenditure and 61% of the 2019 gross allocation for my Department.
My colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Kyne, and I will speak about the highlights in each 6programme area during the first half of 2019. I will commence with the culture programme. I will be happy to expand on any matter members may wish to raise.
Total funding of just under €189 million is provided in 2019 for the culture programme. Some 95% of this funding, or approximately €180 million, is used to directly support arts and culture in Ireland. Gross direct programme expenditure on culture, up to 30 June, was €86.4 million, representing 48% of the corresponding 2019 programme allocation. This percentage had increased to 63% as at 31 August. As committee members are aware, a cornerstone of my Department's culture investment programme under Project Ireland 2040 is the €460 million being set aside for the renovation of the national cultural institutions, the protection of the national collections and the enhancement of visitor experiences and services. While much of the work in 2019 continues to be focused on the appraisal, planning and design of projects, the first phase of enabling works to prepare for the National Archives' repository redevelopment was completed earlier this year, with many of the State's papers and documents being moved to temporary storage in order to facilitate the preliminary site works. The project is intended to deliver new purpose-built storage facilities at the National Archives premises on Bishop Street, Dublin 8 and will build in the potential to develop and construct additional storage in the future.
On the audiovisual industry, European Commission approval was received to extend the section 481 film tax credit for four years, from its original end date of 31 December 2020 to 31 December 2024. This will provide certainty for production companies on the future availability of the credit and helps to ensure the Irish film industry will continue to grow. Also in support of the Government's ambition to make Ireland a global hub for the production of film, TV drama and animation, new film regulations aimed at supporting broader regional development of the audiovisual sector in Ireland were introduced by the Revenue Commissioners earlier this year. The regional film development uplift, announced as part of budget 2019, will be available to productions being undertaken substantially in areas designated as assisted regions, obliging production companies to make training and skills development a key part of their projects and ensuring the film industry will benefit from the additional activity long after thee productions have concluded.
Cruinniú na nÓg is the first national day celebrating children and young people's creativity. It took place again in June this year, with a programme of more than 750 free creative activities for under-18s across the country. Although only in its second year, the initiative under my Department's Creative Ireland programme is already a great success and a firm fixture in the culture calendar. Its success is due in no small part to the really impressive range of events for all ages and interests curated by the culture and creativity teams across the 31 local authorities. Events included workshops, exhibitions and performances and were kicked off by our Cruinniú na nÓg ambassadors, who are Sarah Fitzgerald in Cork and Adam Cunningham in Galway city. Ben de Barra's first film "The Happy Garden" was premiered in Dublin as part of Cruinniú.
This year has also seen the appointment of cultural ambassadors from Ireland's arts and culture community to promote Ireland globally as part of the Government's Global Ireland 2025 initiative and provide advice on and an input into strategic cultural initiatives and participate in key events and projects. Martin Hayes, Shelley McNamara, Yvonne Farrell, Ruth Negga and Paul Muldoon all accepted the role of cultural ambassador in January this year for a period of three years. I greatly appreciate each cultural ambassador's acceptance of the role. In continuing to do what they do best they will be among Ireland's greatest representatives globally.
At the start of the year I was pleased to announce the publication of the guidance of the expert advisory group on the decade of centenaries, 1919 to 1923. Consistent with this advice, I am committed to ensuring the State's approach to remembering all those who lost their lives during the struggle for independence and the significant events and themes associated with this period will be based on the respectful, sensitive, proportionate and authentic approach that has become the hallmark of my Department's decade of centenaries commemorative programme. The collaborative approach between the State, the local authority network and community organisations to the commemorative programme has been critical in its successful delivery to date. To that end, I was very pleased to be able to announce a funding allocation of €10,000 for every local authority in 2019 to support their role in leading the development of commemorative activities at county level under the community strand of the decade of centenaries programme.
On the culture programme, it would be remiss of me not to mention Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture. I was very pleased to launch the culture programme under Galway 2020 last month. The programme presents a wealth of artistic talent inspired by and nurtured in Ireland, as well as the work of artists from other cultures. It represents both Galway city and county, including the islands, spreading across Ireland and adopting an all-Ireland approach. Galway 2020 is supported by the Government through my Department. It is recognised not alone as an EU event but also one which fits within the Government's Global Ireland initiative which aims to increase Ireland's global profile by 2025. The programme promises to be an exciting one, including many free events, and will I hope attract visitors from around the world who will experience at first hand the many and varied aspects of Irish culture.
I will be happy to expand on any issue members would like to raise about any programme area.