The nature of employment within the arts sector encompasses a wide range of activities, from theatre and music to architecture and sculpture as well as encompassing the industrial creative sectors and audiovisual production. My primary role is to support artists and the creative industries in Ireland using the mechanisms available to me. The Arts Council is the primary mechanism through which the Government channels funding to the Arts. Over the past 2 years my Department's allocation to Arts Council has increased by €8m which is a significant support to the arts sector.
In addition, the Creative Ireland Programme is an all-of-government high level, high ambition initiative which aims to place creativity at the centre of public policy. The Programme encourages and supports active participation in creative activity, particularly but not exclusively through the arts and culture based on the belief that nurturing the creative imagination is crucially important for individual well-being, social cohesion and economic success. The Programme is delivered primarily through existing structures – the Arts Council, the 31 local authorities, the Film Board, and relevant Government Departments, including my own Department.
This Government recently launched Project Ireland 2040; a comprehensive national planning framework and associated 10-year National Development Plan. Project Ireland 2040 explicitly recognises that our culture, language and heritage are an essential part of the sustainable development of the country.
This acknowledgement of the centrality of culture and creativity to our national development is unprecedented in this type of statutory planning framework, as is the commitment to investment in excess of €1 billion in our culture and heritage over the next 10 years. Of this investment some €725 million will be invested directly in our cultural infrastructure, in our creative industries and in enhancing cultural experience for our citizens.
All of this represents real and substantial funding increases across the cultural areas of my Department, which will lead to greater employment in these areas.