Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Ceisteanna (24)

Mattie McGrath


24. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans to include support for traditional Irish crafts under the national creativity fund initiatives; if local craft enterprises can apply for support under the Creative Ireland programme in 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24589/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí ó Béal (7 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Culture)

Has the Minister plans to include support for traditional Irish crafts under the national creativity fund initiatives? Can local community or private craft enterprises apply for support under the Creative Ireland programme in 2019? Will the Minister make a statement on the matter?

I thank the Deputy for his question. The Creative Ireland programme is a five-year, all-of-Government, culture-based initiative, led by my Department, that emphasises the importance of human creativity for individual, community and societal well-being. When we talk about creativity, we are talking about it in its widest possible sense, including, as the Deputy mentioned, traditional heritage-based activity.

The main source of funding for local craft enterprises under the Creative Ireland programme is pillar 2, enabling creativity in every community. In 2019, my Department allocated a sum of €2 million and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government allocated a sum of €1 million to all 31 local authorities, which is a total of €96,000 each approximately, to enable them to support an extensive programme of activities, events and initiatives in each county. Each local authority has established a Creative Ireland co-ordinator and a local culture team to manage and allocate this funding in accordance with local needs and in line with their five-year culture and creativity strategies.

Projects funded include arts projects, grant schemes, concerts, conferences, exhibitions, festivals, outreach projects, publications, research programmes and workshops, among other activities. They cover topics such as archaeology, architecture, biodiversity, crafts, heritage, dance, film, history, literature, music, photography, poetry, storytelling, theatre and the visual arts. The Deputy’s constituency of Tipperary has a very rich programme in place with some great examples of heritage related projects. For example, in 2018, the local culture team, with the support of the Creative Ireland programme, funded Ode on a Castle and a Tower, a communal drawing project carried out as part of the community engagement on a project of heritage-led regeneration works on the streetscape in Carrick-on-Suir.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House

In addition to this core funding, the Creative Ireland programme has allocated €15,000 to each local authority outside of Dublin and €75,000 each to the four local authorities in Dublin to develop a special programme of events for Cruinniú na nÓg, the national day of creativity for children and young people. Cruinniú na nÓg is taking place on 15 June 2019 and includes a range of traditional heritage based activities for all ages. Full details of the programme can be found on the Creative Ireland programme website.

We need to provide a renewed and sustained focus on ensuring the future viability of our crafts. Unfortunately, we have already had the announcement of the closure of a regional craft gallery, the Craft Granary in Cahir town. The way it was handled was simply appalling. It was unfair to the staff, the gallery's suppliers and the craftspeople who used the gallery. I salute the management and staff, including the acting manager, Rachel. What happened there was unfair. The board knew about this decision but decided for some reason to keep it hush hush until after the local elections. That is an appalling treatment of a valuable industry in Cahir and of a space where artists and creative people could display and sell their wares. It was run by a community employment scheme.

Those community employment projects deserve more respect and we need to do more to support these. An allocation of €96,000 per county is a pittance. Concerns were expressed to me some time ago but it was decided to be deceitful, disrespectful and downright disingenuous to the staff, management and artists involved. They have put on many an excellent display in the building which I have attended. Something should be done to keep wonderful buildings like this. It is based in Cahir town with the support of the South-East Regional Authority. The 2017 to 2020 arts strategy for Tipperary is clear about the importance of the Craft Granary not only to Cahir town but the south east. It is reprehensible that it will be closed when we are exiting a recession. It will leave a significant gap in the landscape for artists and creative people, not giving them exposure for their wonderful gifts and talents as well as the chance to sell their products.

Tipperary has a cultural and creativity team, along with a Creative Ireland co-ordinator, all of whom would welcome input into the development of their plan. For pillar 2 of the Creative Ireland programme for creative communities, my Department allocated €2 million while the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government gave €1 million. That means €96,000 has been allocated to each local authority. My Department and the Creative Ireland programme do not prescribe what creativity is and what activities can be supported, however. Autonomy is granted to the local authorities, community groups or schools partaking in any Creative Ireland project or initiative.

There is an array of creative activities, including traditional heritage-based activities and events, which are being supported by the Creative Ireland programme. Cruinniú na nÓg, the national day of creativity for children and young people, for example, will take place this Saturday. In 2018, there was the Ode on a Castle and a Tower event. There was also the Vox Materia exhibition of sculpture and prints by the renowned artist, Alice Maher, which was curated by the Pluck Projects and commissioned by Brendan Maher of the Source Arts Centre in Thurles. This exhibition was inspired by a visit to Kilcooley Abbey and the 12th century carving of a mermaid there.

The Minister will have another minute. Other Members are waiting patiently for their question.

The Tipperary arts strategy is clear about the importance of the Craft Granary in representing craft-making not only for Cahir but the south east. It was one of the only dedicated facilities in the ownership of a local authority whose mandate was crafts promotion. We have Róisín Treacy and Mr. Maher, as well as other creative people. We need this focal point. As such there is an obligation on the local authority and the Department to ensure its activities collaborate with enterprise support agencies, council, regional bodies, higher education institutions, training bodies and the private sector to protect the future viability of the Craft Granary. There has been a clear lack of ambition in ensuring this happens. There is little point in developing glossy tourism strategies if we cannot protect the excellent resources we already have. The Craft Granary building has been in use since 1809. It is vital, therefore, that we not only protect the existing jobs there but the building's important historical legacy.

The primary responsibility is with the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland, the national agency with the remit for the commercial development of Irish designers and makers. It provides a variety of programmes and supports for the sector. Its activities are funded by the Department of Business, Enterprise, and Innovation via Enterprise Ireland. My Department provides funding through the Creative Ireland programme to local authorities for the implementation of their cultural and creativity strategies. In doing so, it sets out the broad parameters for the uses to which this funding is applied. The precise projects which are funded and the manner in which the moneys are dispersed is a matter ultimately for each local authority. Several local authorities operate grant schemes which involve an open call for applications. Tipperary County Council is one such local authority which operates this.