Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Ceisteanna (42)

Bernard Durkan


42. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent of specific events scheduled in 2019 to encapsulate and promote an even greater awareness of Irish culture and heritage at home and abroad; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1756/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Oral answers (6 contributions) (Ceist ar Culture)

I am seeking to obtain information on the number of events scheduled for the current year and promoting Irish heritage and culture at home and abroad, with a view to tapping into the economic benefits arising therefrom.

The Government agency with primary responsibility for promoting knowledge, appreciation and practice of the arts in Ireland is the Arts Council of Ireland, which has been allocated €77 million for its work in 2019, an increase of some €6.8 million, or 10%, from its allocation for last year.  Total expenditure on arts and culture by my Department in 2019, including the Arts Council of Ireland, national cultural institutions and Screen Ireland, will be some €190 million, an increase of €23 million, or 14%, on 2018. 

Through its Culture Ireland division, my Department has primary responsibility for the promotion of Irish culture abroad. In 2019 I allocated  €4.6 million to Culture Ireland, an increase of €600,000, or 15%, from last year.  On 7 January last I announced the appointment of five cultural ambassadors. These new positions will see high-profile figures from Ireland’s arts and culture community promoting Ireland globally as part of the Government’s Global Ireland 2025 initiative. The latter is a whole-of-Government initiative which aims to double Ireland’s footprint globally through a mix of actions in the cultural, diplomatic, business, education and tourism areas.  In addition, a conference of cultural stakeholders is being held in Dublin on 24 January to discuss how best to advance Ireland’s global visibility and strengthen global relationships.

Other mechanisms by which we support culture and creativity include the Creative Ireland programme, a culture-based programme designed to promote individual, community and national well-being. Its core proposition is that participation in cultural and creative activities drives personal and collective well-being and achievement.  Under the programme, my Department will commit €2 million to local authorities under pillar 2, the creative communities element, in 2019.

I thank the Minister for her reply. I have a further supplementary question. From her information on events which have already taken place, to what degree is information under the headings she has mentioned to the House being made available to schools in order to create an early awareness of our history and culture, and obviously to reap the consequent benefits? Has the Minister determined the extent to which the Government can use the advantages of Ireland's stamp or image abroad for economic purposes, in order to ensure, particularly in the aftermath of Brexit, that a greater and wider audience both at home and abroad is aware of our presence?

I thank the Deputy. He mentioned schools. I note that the creative schools programme is one of the key deliverables of the creative youth plan, which is an initiative of the Creative Ireland programme. It is led by the Arts Council of Ireland in collaboration with and funded by my Department and the Department of Education and Skills. Following an open application process, 150 schools were selected for the pilot in the school year running from 2018 to this year. These schools have approximately 38,000 pupils. There are a diverse range of school types involved in rural and urban parts of the country. Primary, post-primary, DEIS and special schools and Youthreach centres are included. A total of four schools in Kildare are participating in the pilot scheme, namely, Scoil an Linbh Íosa in Ballycane in Naas, Scoil Mhichil Naofa in Athy, Scoil Mhuire in Ballymany in Newbridge and Ursaille Naofa in Naas. Schools participating in the pilot are working with artists, creative practitioners and educators to develop their own unique programme of arts and creative work, connecting them to the full range of local and regional cultural resources and opportunities. Concerning Ireland in general, the cultural ambassadors will go some way towards expanding our global footprint.

I thank the Minister. Has her Department evaluated the extent, if any, to which people's personal contacts internationally can be accelerated and expanded with a view to making it almost impossible to ignore the existence of what we have to offer in the context of culture and heritage? This has an obvious benefit from the points of view of tourism, education, utilising every opportunity to promote what we have to an even greater extent than has been done in the past and identifying the extent to which that can be done practically.

I thank the Deputy. One of the aims of Global Ireland 2025 is to ensure that Ireland is showcased around the world. One of the reasons I appointed the cultural ambassadors was in order to do this. Culture Ireland has a lot of ambition for 2019, and we hope to double our footprint by 2025 through a mix of actions in the cultural, diplomatic, business, education and tourism areas.

We have a strong reputation for culture and creativity and it is central to the initiative. We propose a number of actions to enhance the promotion of Ireland's culture globally. The Heritage Ireland 2030 plan is exceedingly important for this country. It is at public consultation at present and the process will go on until February 2019.

Some projects in County Kildare were successful in applying to the national creativity fund, which was launched in May 2018.