Is mór agam an deis seo a fháil inniu chun meastúcháin mo Roinne do 2017 a phlé. I am very pleased to have this opportunity to outline the 2017 priorities for my Department. The responsibilities of my Department are very broad and diverse. They include the facilitation of the economic development of Ireland's regions and the sustainable development of vibrant and rural communities; the conservation, preservation, protection, development and presentation of Ireland's heritage and culture; and the promotion of the Irish language and support of the Gaeltacht and island communities. My Cabinet colleagues and I remain committed to working with all stakeholders to progress and deliver the measures set out in A Programme for a Partnership Government in the interests of all the people of Ireland.
I propose to address the issues arising across my Department's Vote on a programme-by-programme basis, but in the first instance would like to provide a broad outline of the overall position. A gross provision of more than €368 million is available to my Department in 2017. This represents an additional €41 million over and above the combined 2017 pre-budget ministerial gross capital and current expenditure ceilings for my Department published in the mid-year expenditure report in July of last year.
An additional €13.548 million in funding has been carried over from the 2016 capital provision for expenditure on priority projects in accordance with the provisions of public financial procedures. In broad terms, the 2017 breakdown of allocations to my Vote is as follows: over €158 million for arts, culture and film, including €65 million for the Arts Council; over €42 million for the national cultural institutions; almost €16.5 million for the Irish Film Board and a dedicated funding stream of €5 million for Creative Ireland, the Government's legacy programme for Ireland 2016; over €45.5 million for the conservation and protection of Ireland's built and natural heritage, including €11 million for the natural heritage, just over €6.2 million for the Heritage Council and €4.5 million for built heritage, including the very successful built heritage investment scheme; over €46.7 million for the Irish language, the Gaeltacht and the islands; over €38.6 million for North-South co-operation, including support for two North-South implementation bodies - Waterways Ireland and An Foras Teanga; and over €79 million for regional development and rural affairs, including €40 million for the Leader programme, over €15 million for rural development schemes and €12 million for town and village regeneration.
The gross allocation for my Department in 2017 is more than 8% higher than in 2016 when the figures are adjusted to take account of the once-off funding for last year's highly successful Ireland 2016 centenary programme. The 2017 provision allows for increases in funding across a range of arts and heritage bodies within my Department’s remit, as well as increases in funding for a number of rural schemes. The additional funding is targeted at key initiatives, including an additional €5 million for the Arts Council, an 8% increase in its annual budget; boosts in funding for all of the national cultural institutions; €2 million to allow for the opening of the newly restored historic wings at the National Gallery of Ireland and the opening of Killarney House on foot of significant capital investment by the State; an increase of €2 million for the Irish Film Board and €1 million for Culture Ireland; an additional €1 million to assist the Heritage Council with its work; dedicated funding of €5 million for the implementation of the Creative Ireland programme; a trebling of funding for town and village regeneration to €12 million; and an additional €8 million for national rural development schemes, including €5 million for the recently reopened CLÁR programme and €40 million for the delivery of the Leader rural development programme in 2017.
My colleagues, the Ministers of State, Deputies Seán Canney and Michael Ring, and I will make brief remarks. We will commence with the arts, culture and film programme and will be happy to expand later on any matter members wish to raise. I will go through the arts, culture and film programme first.
Over €158 million is being provided in 2017 for arts, culture and film, with a further €11.548 million provided by way of a capital carryover. In 2016 funding for the Creative Ireland programme was primarily focused on the very successful Ireland 2016 centenary programme. The programme was multifaceted and included over 60 State ceremonial events, a capital programme of eight major restoration and development projects, flag-raising ceremonies, schools Proclamation day activities and a wide range of other shared community, historical and cultural events. The Ireland 2016 programme provided for engagement with Irish people at home and abroad in an unprecedented way, with record levels of engagement and participation by schools, communities, cultural institutions, organisations and individuals.
The Creative Ireland programme is the Government's legacy project for Ireland 2016 which aims to harness the goodwill, engagement and momentum created by the Ireland 2016 programme and places creativity at the centre of public policy. Creative Ireland is a high-level, high-ambition, all-of-government initiative aligned with Culture 2025, Éire Ildánach and framed within A Programme for a Partnership Government. It is a five-year initiative from 2017 to 2022 building up to the centenary of the State. The initiative aims to mainstream creativity in the life of the nation in order that, individually and collectively, we can realise our full creative potential. There are a number of ambitious targets set for Creative Ireland in its first year. Cruinniú na Cásca is among these priorities. The first Cruinniú took place on Easter Monday this year when a wide series of family friendly events took place across Dublin city centre, with events, both large and small, also taking place across the country. The event was curated by RTE on behalf of my Department and delivered in conjunction with the local authorities. Every county in Ireland hosted an event and between Dublin and the regions, over 550,000 people participated in Cruinniú. This is another great example of the power and impact of successful collaboration. It is hoped to expand and develop Cruinniú further in the coming year as part of the Creative Ireland programme.
The 2017 allocation for the arts, culture and film programme area of my Department's Vote includes boosts in funding for all of the national cultural institutions, making their combined total allocation for 2017 in excess of €42 million. In particular, the increased allocation in 2017 for the National Gallery of Ireland allows for the opening of the newly restored historic wings next month on foot of significant capital investment by the State. The gallery has continued to operate successfully, despite the closure of its historic wings but its reopening of the Vermeer exhibition is expected to draw even greater numbers of visitors. The Irish Film Board is receiving a funding increase of €2 million in 2017 and Culture Ireland an increase of €1 million. The important and valuable work of the Arts Council has also been recognised and is reflected in the 2017 current allocation of over €65 million, an increase of €5 million, or 8%, on the 2016 allocation.
A total of 56 cultural organisations will benefit from €9 million in capital investment under the arts and culture capital scheme for the period 2016 to 2018. This is the most significant investment in regional arts and cultural centres in a decade and recognises the importance of high-quality infrastructure for a vibrant arts and culture sector. This type of investment is at the core of what my Department and I are trying to achieve through Creative Ireland and the Action Plan for Rural Development, placing creativity and culture at the heart of the community and revitalising towns and villages through a range of initiatives. Of the €9 million in funding, 85% is going to projects outside Dublin. I will be happy to expand on any issue Deputies raise in respect of this programme area.