My Department provides financial support for the protection of heritage buildings and historic structures through the Built Heritage Investment Scheme (BHIS) and the Historic Structures Fund (HSF), formerly the Structures at Risk Fund (SRF), which are administered by local authorities. On 28 March this year I announced funding of €4.3 million to 478 projects under these schemes. While the closing dates for applications have now passed, my Department will remain in close contact with local authorities throughout the year to ensure the best possible use is made of all funds.
My Department’s 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 wellbeing. The vision of the Creative Ireland Programme is to position creativity at the heart of public policy, to enable, encourage and enhance collaboration and innovation, and to create opportunities for all citizens to engage with all forms of creative activity.
In encouraging new ways and means to explore, express and engage with our natural creativity, the Creative Ireland Programme aims to give autonomy to partners (such as local authorities and community groups) to decide on the creative activities that speak to their strengths, preferences and local traditions.
The main source of support for community-based activities under the Creative Ireland Programme is Pillar 2 - 'Enabling Creativity in Every Community'. In 2019, a total of €3m has been allocated to all 31 local authorities (€96,000 each approximately) to enable them to support an extensive programme of activities, events and initiatives in each county. In 2018, over 1,200 events took place across all local authorities. 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 individual 5-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 Heritage Council, which my Department funds, also provides grants for the protection and preservation of the built heritage. It is primarily a matter for the Heritage Council to decide how its funding should be allocated across the range of research, education and conservation programmes it supports annually, having regard to competing priorities for limited resources. Grant schemes for 2019 are advertised by the Heritage Council on its website www.heritagecouncil.ie.
The Historic Towns Initiative (HTI), additionally, is a joint undertaking between my Department and the Heritage Council. It is a capital funding scheme to provide support to historic towns engaged in a programme of heritage-led regeneration. Local authorities must match any contribution awarded under the scheme. Earlier this year, along with the Heritage Council, I announced funding of €1 million, to be shared by six towns under the 2019 programme. These towns are Kilrush, Letterkenny, Ballina, Navan, Boyle and Nenagh.