I am delighted to be present and I would like to acknowledge Senator Mac Conghail's work in organising this debate. I served in the House for four years in the 1980s and I always found it a creative place. It is where I learned about politics and legislation and I had the opportunity to introduce a number of initiatives. I would also like to acknowledge Senator Mac Conghail's work in briefing other Members. I am sure they are wiser about the arts than they were last week and that is positive for the arts.
I am glad a large number of people involved in the arts are present in the Visitors Gallery, including Ms Pat Moylan, chairman of the Arts Council and Mr. John McGrane of Ulster Bank who is with Mr. Willie White, artistic director of the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival. Ms Tania Banotti of the National Campaign for the Arts and Theatre Forum is also in attendance. They are all welcome and I hope we will have a good engagement and that some new ideas will emerge.
When I was appointed by the Taoiseach to this brief, I resolved that I would try to make the arts and culture part of our national script. In other words, it would be a central and essential part of the narrative about the character of a new, different, changed and better Ireland. A country like ours today survives, grows and prospers on foundations built on the talent and ability of its people. Human ability, resilience and creativity are key. The more they are developed, the better we are. Modern goods and services require high value added input, some of which comes from technology and financial capital, but more comes from people and their ability to innovate, think and be creative.
The process of stimulation through music, drama, literature, films, works of art and the delight in design, in architecture, in crafts, enlarges a country's capacity to be reflective, interested, dynamic and bold. Dynamism in the arts and culture, I believe, also leads to dynamism in a nation — a kind of national reawakening. When more children get access to the possibilities of art and creativity, it is not the art alone that they learn; it is the art of living, thinking for themselves and creating. They may never become an artist or a dancer or a designer, but in whatever job and in whichever walk of life they choose, they will carry an idea that is not just about commerce, law, engineering or medicine but about what makes the ordinary special and the extraordinary possible.
That is why I am putting arts in education at the heart of my ministerial objectives. I have met the Minister for Education and Skills to discuss a range of ideas. These have been further elaborated out by our advisers and a team headed up by the assistant secretaries of the two Departments is now working on those ideas. When young people can visit museums and see great works of art, they take some of the inspiration with them. A nation that cares about arts and culture and its youth will not be a better nation only; it will be a more successful one because arts and culture, more than any other programmes of Government, worthy and necessary though those are, can make people think, see things differently, and understand where the other comes from. As my colleague, the Minister for Education and Skills says, we need to teach young people to think and not just to remember,
The next five years can be an exciting time for the arts and culture sector. The combination with the Irish language and heritage responsibility makes eminent sense and I look forward to seeking and building on the self-evident synergies between the three areas. Over the next five years, the Government will seek to work to maintain employment levels in the sector; increase visitor numbers to the cultural institutions to 3.5 million per annum in 2011 and grow that number further next year — so far this year those numbers are up about 4% on last year's record numbers; enhance engagement with the arts from the community up, with particular reference to young people; continue to support our national cultural institutions; build on Ireland's cultural brand through the work of my Department's agency, Culture Ireland, especially in the US and the BRIC countries, and during our Presidency of the EU; finalise development work on key regional arts and culture infrastructure; complete refurbishment of the National Gallery historic wings; ensure that key arts and culture venues in major centres throughout the country remain in business; maximise the return from section 481 film production relief; leverage the impact of our expertise in the animation business and build on the success of Brown Bag Films, Cartoon Saloon and JAM Media among others; in the context of our jobs strategy, move forward on implementing the recommendations of the creative capital report on the film and television production sector, which I published during the summer; maintain our competitive position in film and television production internationally to drive inward investment opportunities in co-operation with the IDA and the industrial development agencies; build on the success of the regional festivals programme in 2011 as part of an integrated cultural and regional tourism drive; maximise the impact of the 1901 and 1911 census digitisation project in conjunction with the tourism agencies, and advance the proposal to publish the 1926 census on-line; build on the business links established through Culture Ireland's promotion programme in China, the US and UK; address economic reputation damage through cultural promotional work and maintain our prominent position internationally, particularly in theatre, music, dance and traditional music; reorganise and achieve economies of scale across the sectors through shared services' models; maintain regional venues and touring programmes within available funding; leverage the City of Literature designation for the entire country; and work on an exciting commemorative programme for 2016. These are just some of the initiatives which the Government will pursue over the next five years. I have a number of ideas that I will try to pursue and Senators will no doubt inform me further and provide further challenges.
We must achieve all of this in the context of reduced Government expenditure in order to meet the EU and IMF targets. In doing this, we are building on our natural strengths in the arts. These are brand recognition and quality; scale; an inherent capacity for renewal; and the fact that arts and culture are now a recognised part of the economic mix. Our stock is high internationally in the arts, culture and film sector. For example, the value of column inches generated by our cultural ambassadors in the last 12 months is put at €20 million worth of advertising because they were all positive column inches. We must build on that and leverage the impact of our world class artists. We must work together with tourism and enterprise agencies, and each opportunity internationally is potentially a selling opportunity for our country. We host the EU Presidency in 2013 and that is a potential audience of 550 million people. We should bring the Imagine Ireland experience to Europe in 2013.
There are considerable opportunities for the film and audiovisual sector. The Government recognises this as an important economic sector and an internationally traded one. I published Creative Capital, the five year development strategy for the sector, earlier this year and I have put the implementation committee in place already. We should build on the successes of recent years and work to maintain hard won competitiveness and craft reputation. Technology opportunities should be exploited. The web hosting, data centre and high speed international broadband infrastructure should also be leveraged. A closer alignment between writing and film talent might bring even more benefits. Our film festivals should become world class.
International partnership and collaboration too is full of possibilities. There has been a tendency to undersell ourselves here. To give a few examples, the National Gallery is in the top 50 most visited art galleries in the world. In the visitors' leagues internationally, it is ahead of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Musée des Beaux Arts and the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville in Paris. The Irish Museum of Modern Art lies ahead of the Whitney in New York and of the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin. Collectively, cultural institutions here had more visitors in 2009 than the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, placing us in the top eight of the most visited museums and galleries in the world. That is a remarkable statement about what we have. It indicates clearly that we have something to bring to international partners.
If the number of visitors to the Book of Kells is included, we would probably be in the top five in the world. That is quite an achievement for a small island nation on the periphery of Europe. In sports terms that is not a standing start. An exciting range of possibilities include further US and EU linkages; the possible development of partnerships with the private sector; further academic developments, including joint research projects, internships, programmes and summer schools; the increased promotion of Dublin as a creative city via initiatives such as culture night and opportunities to engage the public in cultural life with the potential to further promote this city and Ireland as a destination for cultural tourists.
One of our specific commitments in the programme for Government is to expand the culture night concept and I have set the wheels in motion on that already. I have a strong sense that we can achieve this by the designation of St. Patrick's Day as the International Day of Irish Culture and build on solid foundations already in place. I hope that all public representatives will support culture night 2011 this coming Friday evening throughout the country.
Literature is our primary cultural calling card and our writers and dramatists introduce us on the international stage. Thanks to Government funding through the Arts Council and Culture Ireland, we are now also known internationally on dance, contemporary music, visual arts, and many other art forms. In the digital world, the customer is just 0.8 seconds away anywhere on the globe. There are novel partnerships across the technology platforms which are possible here. With imagination and technological knowledge we can bring our collections and our artists to entire new markets.
In this regard we can consider the success of the on-line census. If we got even 1% of the 200 million on-line hits to those pages visiting this country, we would increase annual visitor numbers by 33%. We can imagine the value of placing the collections of the National Library of Ireland at the disposal of every school child in the country. More global business is being done on the web and we must be there in an imaginative and compelling way. We must have a centre of literary excellence in Dublin, and I am exploring a number of possibilities in that regard. We have the content for this beyond doubt and with a clever use of the existing stock of public buildings, we can accommodate it in a manner appropriate its importance.
My vision for this is very simple. It should be a place where all the public and visitors could encounter writers of the past, engage with writers of the present and encourage writers of the future. It will be a place in which our rich literary heritage would be brought to life — an embarkation point and launching pad for the literary visitor and a pantheon of Irish writers. There is no doubt that we are a world class artistic and creative hub.
In the past two years, Irish artists continued to make a major impact on the global stage. Five Oscar nominations brought international focus and acclaim to the Irish animation sector, with Richard Baneham, a graduate of Ballyfermot College, winning an Academy Award for special effects for "Avatar". Joan Bergin won a third Emmy for her costume design on "The Tudors". The outstanding Irish documentary "His and Hers" won the best cinematography award at the Sundance Film Festival. Michael Fassbender from Killarney won best actor at the Venice Film Festival and "Albert Nobbs", starring Glenn Close and produced in Dublin by Alan Moloney, with the screenplay written by John Banville, is opening the Los Angeles Film Festival.
The Villagers rock group made an international breakthrough with their nomination for the prestigious Mercury music prize. Colm Tóibín's Brooklyn won the Costa Novel Award and Colm McCann won the IMPAC for Let the Great World Spin. Paul Murray’s novel, Skippy Dies, was selected by Time magazine as one of the top three novels of 2010, and it was on the holiday reading this year of US President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron. Room, by Emma Donoghue, was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Award.
In its top ten list of theatre productions for 2010, The New York Times included Druid’s production of Enda Walsh’s “Penelope”. With the same production, Enda Walsh and Druid also won a third Fringe First in a row at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The New York Times selected two Irish books in their top five fiction list for 2010 — Emma Donoghue’s Room and William Trevor’s Selected Stories. This year Pat Kinnevan enthralled the Edinburgh Festival with a great fusion of dance and acting talent, and I was delighted to be there to witness it.
Arts and culture spans so many disciplines. There is not a sector of the arts that cannot contribute to our growth and redefinition as a nation. We must develop a particular model of government working with the cultural sector that is both successful and distinctively Irish, and which recognises the constraints on the public purse. That model is a mixed new economy model combining public funding with private enterprise, philanthropy, subsidy and the box office together with new media and technology.
Critically, the Arts Council operates as an arm's length body, so the State is placed in the position of doing what it can do well, creating the right policy conditions and funding, and not what it has no business doing, controlling the arts. The simplicity of this model is that public subsidy permits risk-taking in creativity. A new breed of entrepreneurial leaders in the arts world have shown that art of the highest quality is compatible with sound financial discipline. The small team that delivered Dublin Contemporary has gathered incredible international press coverage from Le Monde, El Pais and so forth, with praise for their creativity, innovation and delivery, and the public subsidy produces a return not just in creativity but in economic activity and social impact.
Taking into account economic multipliers, the value added that was dependent on the arts, culture and creative sectors in 2008 was €11.8 billion or 7.6% of GNP, according to DKM. Cultural tourism is a key element of Ireland's tourism industry, again according to DKM. The list of top visitor attractions is dominated by natural and built heritage, and in addition festivals and musical and other events attract major numbers of attendees. In 2008, some 3.5 million overseas visitors engaged in cultural or historical visits, which represents 43% of total visitors, and they spent €2.3 billion, which represents 56% of the total overseas visitor spend. As Senators know, a large number of the tourists who come to Ireland engage in cultural pursuits. We only have to look at Kildare Street on a day such as today to see the large numbers of people going into the National Library and the National Museum. People visit them in greater numbers because they are free of charge, but our cultural venues bring people into Dublin and that is one of our great advantages. A total of €3.03 billion or 2% of GNP is at least partly dependent on overseas cultural tourism, and domestic cultural tourism would add significantly to that. In 2008, some 73,000 jobs were dependent on cultural tourism, which represents 3.4% of the workforce. There is a significant showcase impact from Irish culture, which raises the profile of the country and has a substantial economic benefit, most directly in tourism.
There is a strong regional aspect to the arts, culture and creative sectors as cultural activity is strongly rooted in locality. Remoteness from larger metropolitan areas is less of a disadvantage than in some other sectors, and in some cases it is an enhancing factor. This is most obvious in the area of events and festivals and the related cultural tourism. Examination of the most popular visitor attractions and events in Ireland in recent years points to a range of locations around the country, including many along the western seaboard. For instance, the third most popular visitor attraction in Ireland is the Cliffs of Moher.
Total Exchequer expenditure on the arts, culture and creative sectors in 2011 is €150 million. The 2008 equivalent was €220 million. Against this, direct Exchequer revenue from the arts, culture and creative sectors in 2008 was approximately €1 billion. The growth rate of the creative sector in Ireland has been well above the European average, indicating the importance of the creative industries for overall Irish economic performance. The new enterprise model for the economy recognises the vital importance of the arts, culture and creative sectors and places strong emphasis on creativity, the accumulation of knowledge and the development of ideas and designs as well as the application of technology.
The combined arts, culture and creative sector is one of the fastest growing globally. It represents 7% of global GDP and is growing at 10% per annum. Likewise, cultural tourism is expected to experience growth of 15% per annum. The culture-related sectors form one of the key growth areas that Ireland must tap into for economic and employment opportunities in the next decade if it is to recover from the current severe recession. Furthermore, on a global scale, the culture-related sectors are expected to be a significantly greater part of the international economy in the future, and Ireland must make its presence felt in these sectors if the overall economy is to be a competitive leader in the future. I have no doubt that those in the sector have the capacity and creativity to make that impact.
I am pleased to have this opportunity to address the House. I will listen attentively to what Senators say and my officials will take notes. I hope our discussion on the arts will add to the overall narrative. It is important that new ideas are listened to, accommodated and implemented if possible. Looking at the profile of the people in the House, I believe there are great opportunities to come up with some really good ideas. Many Senators have worked in the arts in the past, and the Seanad can really prove itself in the arts in this term.