4 December 2022 The Irish Film & Television Network
Arts Council Seeds New Development
30 Jul 1999 :
The arts council is to receive a significant increase in public funding. Announced this week by Minister for Arts, Ms Sile De Valera, the Government will increase the Arts Councilís annual budget from £28 million to £37.5 million.

The funding is in response to the Arts Councilís three-year strategic plan for the arts, which highlights just how weakly resourced the Irish arts industry is. This plan details that Irelands provision of public funding for the arts is £12.36 per person, which is significantly less than in other regions. Northern Irelandís per person spend is £17.32 per person, England is £24.23 and Sweden spends £62.14 per person on the arts.

The previous Minister for the arts, Mr. Michael D Higgins, commissioned the first arts plan which resulted in a doubling of the arts budget. It is argued that it is the success of this spending, and the consequent increased arts activity nationally, which necessitates additional funding for the implementation of the second plan.

Other key aspects of the plan focus on restructuring the entire organisation to meet the challenges which are ahead. It is proposed that the council itself be transformed into a development agency to allow it to take a leadership role in shaping the arts. This new structure would have particular impact on the export of Irish arts projects. Currently this is overseen by the Cultural Relations Committee but it is argued that this role would have a much stronger impact if undertaken by the proposed development agency. Staff changes would also be required with additional staff and new training needs a key priority.

A proposed move away from traditional decision making will centralise funding decisions under one single body, instead of decisions being made by a range of different committees for different forms of the arts. This, it is proposed, will allow spending decisions to have a greater impact on the whole arts industry and allow the Council to better plan the future of the arts.

Other plans include a fresh emphasis on the arts and education, the promotion of contemporary arts music, a major art exhibition of international scale and an ambitious new direction in developing Irish architecture.

By Gary Quinn

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