Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Ceisteanna (26)

Bernard Durkan


26. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which extra expenditure is planned for the arts with particular reference to the need to maximise opportunities for employment in the sector and enhance the image of Ireland at home and abroad with obvious economic benefit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24296/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí ó Béal (6 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Culture)

The purpose of my question is to encourage investment in the arts at local and national levels, with a view to enhancing the country's image in the arts world in general and encouraging interest at local and national level.

In 2019, funding of €339 million was allocated for developing culture, heritage and the Irish language. This is an increase of €36 million, or 12%, on the previous year. This compares with a 5% increase in overall voted public expenditure in 2019.

Primary support for the arts is delivered through the Arts Council, whose funding has increased in recent years and now stands at €75 million in 2019, an increase of €6.8 million, or 10%, over 2018. The Arts Council, which is independent in its funding decisions under the Arts Act 2003, operates within a published ten-year strategic framework, entitled Making Great Art Work. This strategy prioritises support for artists throughout their careers by the involvement of many agencies in cultural provision, by the impact of the arts on the creative economy and by the depth and breadth of people's engagement with the arts. For example, the Arts Council now includes, as an assessment criterion, the organisation’s policy on the remuneration of artists in an effort to ensure that organisations in receipt of Arts Council funding should offer fair and equitable remuneration to artists.

My Department supports a broad range of programmes and initiatives across its remit to promote Ireland’s image, including, in particular, the Creative Ireland programme and Culture Ireland. The remit of Culture Ireland, which is a division of my Department, is to promote and advance Irish arts worldwide, thus strengthening Ireland’s cultural profile and global reputation. Strategic priorities include providing support for the international presentation of Irish artists and arts organisations, developing new and diverse international audiences and markets for Irish arts, and linking culture into the Government’s international promotion strategy, in tandem with other relevant Government agencies. Critically, the work of Culture Ireland is focused not just on promoting Ireland but also increasing career opportunities for Irish artists.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House.

The cumulative impact of these funding increases is further testament to the commitment to double Government spending in the arts, culture and heritage sector. My Department and I will continue to work rigorously with all of my Government colleagues towards delivering on the commitment to increase Government spending in the arts and culture sector on a trajectory that will see funding doubled by 2025. In this context, I am already delivering additional supports to the arts and culture sector, building on the €1.2 billion earmarked for culture, heritage and the Irish language under Project Ireland 2040, thus leading to increased activity and employment across all sectors under the remit of my Department.

I thank the Minister for her informative reply. I ask the degree to which philanthropists can be encouraged to assist in the very wide programme at both local and national level. I also ask the degree to which young people, through the schools perhaps, can be encouraged to take an interest in the arts with a view to participation in the future, to becoming directly involved or to achieving employment in that area.

Philanthropy is always something to be welcomed. The Deputy mentioned Creative Schools and how schools can be involved. The Creative Schools pilot project is one of the flagship projects of Creative Youth and each participating school has access to creative associates, who are essential in embedding inspiration and sustainable creative practices in teaching and learning. They are a mixture of practising artists, arts practitioners and teachers with an understanding of creativity and its potential to transform the lives of children and young people.

There is also the creative funding that was mentioned in regard to County Kildare. A lot of cultural funding is going into Kildare this year, as it did last year, to help young people. There is also Cruinniú na nÓg, which will be taking place this Saturday and in which the Deputy may be interested.

I ask the degree to which the Department continues to monitor the progress of the programme under the various headings, with a view to expanding and increasing employment in the arts and improving the image nationally and internationally, not that it needs improving but in order to get appreciation from a wider audience. To what extent is that happening? Are there measures that might be deemed necessary in order to enhance and improve further the opportunities within the arts for those either directly or indirectly involved?

Continuous monitoring is undertaken by my Department at all stages in regard to any financial aspect. Obviously, there is the breakdown of investment in our culture, language and heritage overall in the 2018-27 plan. Some €1.2 billion was provided as part of Project Ireland 2040, we have €460 million going into our national cultural institutions, €265 million for our culture and creativity investment programme, €285 million for our natural and built heritage and €178 million for the Gaeltacht, the Irish language and the islands.

On the international stage, which the Deputy mentioned, Global Ireland is the Government's strategy for doubling the impact of our global footprint through a range of measures, including by promoting Irish arts, heritage and culture to new generations and new audiences across the world. This sets out a number of objectives for my Department and there has been significant progress on a number of these objectives, including the appointment of cultural ambassadors, a conference of cultural stakeholders and the provision of capital funding by my Department for the Irish arts centre in New York and the London Irish arts centre.