Support for the arts is a key focus of the supports provided by my Department and its agencies. My Department is involved in a very wide range and cultural events numbering several thousand each year and I will try to give a flavour of these in this reply.
Culture Night takes place tomorrow 20th September 2019 all over Ireland and it is run by my Department in conjunction with local authorities and other partners. Culture Night is now in its 14th year. It has grown from a relatively small scale cultural event staged only in Dublin in 2006 to the significant national cultural event it now is, with over 400,000 people visiting Museums, galleries, historic houses, artists’ studios and cultural centres across the country on the night. I myself was very impressed at the variety of events which I was able to attend including reading poetry in the Seanad Chamber, exploring artists' studios in Temple Bar and experiencing the crowds attending the RTÉ event at the National Museum in Collins Barracks.
In 2018, 1,606 venues across the island of Ireland participated in Culture Night, with an attendance of 420,000. Events are run in partnership with local authorities. It is anticipated that 2019 will be a bigger event again and full details of events are available at www.culturenight.ie
The Creative Ireland Programme is now in its third year and it provides significant support to Local Authorities to enable them curate a programme of local events and activities each year. This year, as in 2018, my Department allocated a sum of €2m to all 31 local authorities. The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government allocated a further €1m to the programme. These monies enabled local authorities to support an extensive programme of activities, events and initiatives. As well as this core support for local Creative Ireland programmes, each local authority is also provided with additional funding to support activities on Cruinniú na nÓg – the national day of creativity for children and young people which takes place in June. This year each local authority was provided with €15,000 (and in the case of each of the four Dublin local authorities, a sum of €75,000 reflecting their larger populations) to activate Cruinniú na nÓg in their respective administrative areas.
Cumulatively, the above funding streams supported over 1,200 projects nationally in 2018 and it is expected they will fund a similar amount of projects this year - to date 780 Cruinniú na nÓg projects alone were funded this year. The types of projects supported include arts projects, grant schemes, concerts, conferences, exhibitions, festivals, outreach projects, publications, research programmes, and workshops among other activities. They cover topics such as dance, film, music, poetry, storytelling, theatre and the visual arts. Further information is available on https://www.creativeireland.gov.ie/en/creative-communities
Also under the Creative Ireland Programme, the Creative Youth Plan commits to specific actions to increase and enhance access to a range of creative and cultural activities and practices for young people, including drama and music. As part of this commitment, my colleague the Minister for Education and Skills has in 2019 increased funding to Music Generation aimed at a national roll-out of the programme, while only last month I announced the provision of funding to Youth Theatre Ireland to assist them in developing a bespoke training programme for youth theatre facilitators and the establishment of new theatre groups in 3 pilot areas.
Further details of the Strategic Plans, Reports and Research Papers and news relating to Creative Ireland including annual reports can be viewed on the Creative Ireland website www.creativeireland.gov.ie.
In addition to the above, the following initiatives supported by my Department are targeted towards support for music.
- The National Folk Theatre, Siamsa Tíre receives annual funding from my Department, brings to life Irish folklore through music, song and dance.
- My Department provides funding for the purchase of equipment under the Music Capital Scheme to performing groups and individual talented musicians on an annual basis throughout the country. The Scheme is managed by Music Network on behalf of my Department.
- Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (CCÉ) is the largest group involved in the preservation and promotion of Irish traditional music both at community and national level. Annual funding is provided by my Department to CCÉ for its work in the protection and promotion of Irish traditional music and culture They promote traditional music dance in the following ways:
- Thousands of children and young people develop their musical performance (instrumentation and vocal) skills and appreciation skills at these mentored weekly classes, where the emphasis is oral transmission in an appropriate context. Over 1,500 Classes are delivered weekly in community settings.
- With over 400 branches, 18 centres, 7 Regional centres and 11 Outreach centres throughout Ireland, Britain, North America and worldwide, a wide variety of formal and informal performance opportunities are provided through the Comhaltas structures and Centres. Each Centre has a local performance group which provides appropriate opportunities for young traditional artists (aged 16 upwards) to participate in formal stage performances.
- Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann which is run by CCÉ, has record attendance of 500,000 annually with over 6,000 participating in its competitions.
The Department provides annual funding to the Cross-Border Orchestra Peace Proms in which 20,000 children from 250 schools across the island of Ireland participate. The Proms provide a vital platform for young people to showcase their musical talent.
My Department ran the Small Scale Local Festivals and Summer Schools fund earlier this year under the scheme, a total of €111,000 was allocated to 50 events under this scheme in 2019, with a maximum funding of €5,000 per grant available through a competitive application process. Full details of this scheme are available at https://www.chg.gov.ie/arts/culture/grants-and-funding/small-scale-local-festivals-summer-schools/. It is currently envisaged that this funding scheme will run again in 2020, subject to available funding. Eighteen projects are benefitting from funding under my Department's 2019
Cooperation with Northern Ireland Scheme Projects range from exhibitions, workshops and cultural events and involve bodies on both sides of the border cooperating in a cultural context. Some examples of the projects being funded include the Smashing Times Theatre & Film Company which is producing an arts-based project using creative processes of theatre, film and new digital technologies to promote peace building and positive community relations between people and traditions in Northern Ireland and on the island of Ireland today.
Further details of allocations can be seen at https://www.chg.gov.ie/arts/culture/grants-and-funding/co-operation-with-northern-Ireland/ . Details of other projects and events previously funded directly can be seen at https://www.chg.gov.ie/arts/culture/grants-and-funding/cultural-projects-funding/
The Arts Council which is funded by my Department also has a number of schemes and initiatives around the support of music and drama. Details of these can be accessed on its website at the following link: www.artscouncil.ie. Funding for the Arts Council has increased in recent years and now stands at €75 million in 2019, an increase of €6.8m or 10% over 2018. Much of this is invested by the Council through its Strategic Funding programme which includes grants to key arts organisations across the country. Additional funding is invested in projects and programmes, including Arts Grant Funding, Project Awards, Open Call, and grants for hundreds of productions, touring and festivals nationwide and details can be viewed on the Arts Council's website on its funding webpages.
The Festivals Investment Scheme operated by the Arts Council will open for applications on 15th October for events that will take place between July and December 2020. These applications close on Thursday 14th November and details may be found at http://www.artscouncil.ie/Funds/Festivals-Investment-Scheme/.
The National Concert Hall (NCH) has a wide and varied programme for Musicians and Music Students that offers a variety of initiatives to develop young musicians as well as lifelong learning through engagement with people of all ages and all sectors of society. Further details of these can be viewed in its website under its Learning and Participation webpage.
The State Ceremonial strand of the commemorative programme for the remainder of the Decade of Centenaries (2019 – 2023) will be augmented with a rich diversity of commemorative activities designed to encourage authentic historical enquiry about this period and broad public engagement. Initiatives will be developed in collaboration with a range of State partners, including the National Cultural Institutions, (institutions of learning, local authorities, creative communities, trade unions and other stakeholders).
The National Cultural Institutions will have a significant role in creating opportunities for people of all ages and traditions to explore and reflect upon this divisive period in our history. Our National Cultural Institutions have an important role as custodians of our history and culture. By conserving, protecting and sharing their extensive collections of authentic archive material, layers of meaning are added to the historical events that took place. One such example is the National Library's latest cultural digitisation project – Towards a Republic – which runs over the remainder of the Decade of Centenaries and will see the digitisation of some of the personal papers of the signatories of the Treaty in preparation for the centenary of the foundation of the State
More details of are available on my Department's website at https://www.chg.gov.ie/. It should be noted that events arranged by individual National Cultural Institutions and bodies under the aegis of my Department are a day-to-day matter for each specific body in which I do not have an operational role.