Is mór agam an deis seo a fháil inniu chun Meastacháin mo Roinne do 2019 a phlé leis an roghchoiste.
Key among these priorities is the effective delivery of my sectoral capital plan, Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage 2018-2027, as part of Project Ireland 2040 which represents a once in a generation opportunity for my Department to conserve our unique culture and heritage and to enhance opportunities to experience them, while also stimulating tourism and local economies. The commitment by the Government to invest €1.2 billion in our culture, language and heritage over the next ten years underpins the recognition of their importance to sustainable development over the next decade and beyond. This level of investment is both unprecedented and transformative, and given the benefits that it will bring to communities across the country, I am deeply committed to ensuring that this ambitious programme of investment is delivered fully and well.
My plan for the Department will bring together for the first time all aspects of our heritage – cultural, linguistic, built and natural – under a single programme of investment with a holistic vision. It is a ten-year investment programme and projects will move through a number of stages in the delivery cycle during this time. At this relatively early stage in the process, much of our energies for 2019 will be focused on ensuring comprehensive appraisal of proposals to ensure that investment decisions are based on best available evidence and are robustly evaluated. As we move further into the delivery phase of programmes and projects, my Department will work closely with the investment projects and programmes office in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in terms of technical and other supports. Together we will work to ensure that all of our projects and programmes are subject to robust project governance and rigorous cost control, and are delivered to the highest standard possible.
This year, we will see some positive developments in the delivery of a number of capital projects under our sectoral capital plan as part of Project Ireland 2040. We will see the completion of phase 1 of the National Library and subsequent phases moving into detailed design and planning. We will also see significant progress on the National Archives project, beginning with the decanting of materials to facilitate development works next month, and the launch in September of Galway 2020, our European Capital of Culture, with cultural programming starting in late 2019.
On our commitments to supporting enterprise development, 2019 will see us increase our investment in the audiovisual sector through Screen Ireland and across Gaeltacht communities through Údarás na Gaeltachta. We will deliver on commitments to protect our built heritage through the built heritage investment scheme, which leverages private funding, local authority structures and central Government grants to protect our built heritage while utilising local craft and construction resources.
On our natural heritage, we are actively working with Fáilte Ireland on the implementation of our tourism interpretation master plan which will enhance visitor experiences across our national parks and nature reserves network.
The Deputies are well aware that the remit and responsibilities of my Department are very broad and diverse. I propose, therefore, to address the issues arising across my Department’s Vote on a programme by programme basis, but in the first instance, I would like to provide a broad outline of the overall position. A gross provision of just under €339 million is available to my Department in 2019. An additional €700,000 in funding has been carried over from the 2018 capital provision for expenditure on priority projects in accordance with the provisions of public financial procedures. In broad terms, the 2019 breakdown of allocations to my Vote is as follows: €189 million for culture, including €75 million for the Arts Council; €47.4 million for the national cultural institutions; €20 million for Screen Ireland; €12.2 million for cultural infrastructure and development and a dedicated funding stream of over €7 million for Creative Ireland, which is the Government’s legacy project for Ireland 2016; more than €54 million for the conservation and protection of Ireland’s built and natural heritage, including €13.7 million for natural heritage; just under €6.6 million for the Heritage Council; just over €6.3 million for built heritage, including the very successful built heritage investment scheme; €55.5 million for the Irish language, the Gaeltacht and the islands; and just under €40.4 million for North-South co-operation, including support for two North-South implementation bodies - Waterways Ireland and An Foras Teanga.
The gross allocation for my Department in 2019 is 12% higher than the comparable figure for 2018 and allows for increases in funding across a range of bodies under my Department’s remit, as well as increases in funding for a number of culture, heritage and Gaeltacht schemes.
This additional funding is targeted at key initiatives. These include a 10% increase in Arts Council funding to €75 million, including over €6 million in current funding, which is more than double the increase in 2018. It has also increased Fís Éireann funding by €2 million or 11% for implementation of the Audiovisual Action Plan; and allocated €6 million in funding for the European Capital of Culture, that is, Galway 2020. There are boosts in funding for all of the national cultural institutions; dedicated funding of over €7 million for the further development and implementation of the Creative Ireland programme; the heritage programme has additional capital of just under €5 million in 2019, an increase of some 47% on 2018, which will provide for over 520 restoration projects; and further investment in visitor services and trails at our national parks and implementation of the national biodiversity action plan.
An additional €1 million has also been provided to allow for increased investment in our waterways; an additional €2 million in funding for Údarás na Gaeltachta in addition to the €700,000 available to it via capital carryover from 2018; and an increase of 20% or €1.5 million for our islands and an increase of €600,000 for the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language. Almost €1.7 million in additional funding towards schemes to promote the Irish language both inside and outside the Gaeltacht has been allocated. This increased funding is tangible evidence of the importance attached to our cultural and creative heritage under Project Ireland 2040 and clearly demonstrates the Government's commitment to increase spending in the arts and culture sector on a trajectory that will see funding doubled by 2025.
My colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Seán Kyne, and I will now both make brief remarks on individual programme areas and are happy to expand later on any matter members may wish to raise. I will commence with some details on the culture programme. Some €189 million is provided in 2019 for culture. This includes boosts in funding for all of the national cultural institutions, making their combined total allocations for 2019 in excess of €47 million. Collectively, these institutions attracted more than 3 million visitors in 2018 and represent a key component of our cultural tourism product offering.
The Arts Council, our national agency for funding, developing and promoting the arts in Ireland, will receive an additional €7 million in 2019 to enhance its support to artists and arts organisations of all sizes throughout the country.
Screen Ireland will receive an additional €2 million to build on its vital work in supporting Irish film, television drama, documentary and animation. This additional funding together with the extension of section 481 relief until 2024 will help develop and support the necessary environment for Ireland to become a global hub for the production of film, TV drama and animation as outlined in my Department's audiovisual action plan published last June. This industry-wide, long-term plan, under the Creative Ireland programme, will support the Government’s ambition to enable Ireland to become a global hub for this sector and the first progress report under the plan is due to be published in the second half of this year.
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. Last year was the programme's second year and saw the successful delivery of a number of cross-departmental and inter-agency co-operative initiatives including creative schools together with the Department of Education and Skills and led by the Arts Council involving some 38,000 children; culture and creativity strategies for all 31 local authorities together with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government; and the National Creativity Fund facilitating 30 new cross-sectoral initiatives including Le Chéile, the first music ensemble for young disabled musicians in Europe led by the Royal Irish Academy of Music and culminating in the founding of the Open Youth Orchestra of Ireland.
The increase in funding for Creative Ireland in 2019 will build on this momentum by further developing the programme as well as providing funding increases to key institutions, agencies and initiatives that deliver arts, creativity and culture right across the country.
Cruinniú na nÓg which is presented in partnership with the local authorities and RTÉ took place for the first time in 2018 and was a major success with 500 events across the country. This national day of creativity has been received positively as a way of getting children involved in new creative activities and supporting local artists and voluntary arts groups.
Ireland is the first country in the world to have a day dedicated to children’s creativity and plans for 2019 include a global programme for Cruinniú in our embassies and consul offices as part of Global Ireland 2025 in partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. I think that will take place on 23 June.
Cruinniú na nÓg is part of the Creative Youth pillar of the Creative Ireland programme and will enjoy increased funding of €6 million for 2019 funded by my Department and the Department of Education and Skills to further enable the creativity of all children and young people.
Culture Ireland will deliver a global programme of Irish arts in 2019 with an increased budget of €4.6 million. It is planned to reach new markets, which Ireland is targeting for trade and tourism, including China. To achieve a wider reach for Irish arts Culture Ireland will continue to showcase Irish artists at a planned series of showcases and build on the 470 events supported in 55 countries in 2018.
As part of my Department's ongoing contribution to the Global Ireland 2025 initiative, a conference of cultural stakeholders to identify how best to advance our global visibility and strengthen our global relationships was held on 24 January 2019 involving international guests, festivals and programmers as well as business, tourism and cultural interests in Ireland. This day-long conference brought together more than 250 key stakeholders in the arts and culture community to debate how we can strategically strengthen and advance our renowned global reputation for creativity.
Finally, in terms of the culture programme, €6 million has been allocated in 2019 to Galway 2020, European Capital of Culture, to allow for preparatory work on this year of unforgettable cultural experience which will allow Galway and Ireland to become a window to Europe and indeed the rest of the world.
If the Chairman wishes, I can take questions on the culture Vote here.