Wednesday, 25 February 2004

Ceisteanna (99)

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

185 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the role he intends to play in the promotion of the arts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6300/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism)

The Arts Act 2003 gives me, as Minister, responsibility for the promotion of the arts within and outside of the State.

In the main, promotion and funding of the arts is delegated to the Arts Council, which is funded by my Department, but operates independently in accordance with the provisions of the Arts Act 2003. I was delighted to be able to increase funding for the council in 2004 by 19% on the 2003 figure, and I will continue to make the best possible case for funding of the arts in the context of annual Estimates processes.

The Arts Act 2003, while giving legislative backing to the independence of the Arts Council in the context of funding decisions, provides mechanisms whereby the Minister of the day can address issues of broad arts policy. In this context, under section 21 of the Act I have directed the council to establish a special committee to advise it on the support of the traditional arts; this special committee is scheduled to report to the council by September 2004.

Under a scheme of capital grants entitled ACCESS, the arts and culture capital enhancement support scheme, my Department has approved capital grants totalling €45.71 million for various kinds of cultural infrastructure including museums, theatres, art centres to the refurbishment of existing performance spaces.

This scheme is designed to lead to the provision of high standard arts and culture infrastructure around the country and it is my hope that it will lead to greater participation in the arts.

The ACCESS scheme placed particular emphasis on community based projects, and 17 such projects are to receive grant aid out of the 44 projects selected.