The Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism yesterday unveiled the ‘Arts and Culture Plan 2008’ which includes details of funding available from the Department for 2008. The pledge of an additional €40 million towards increasing arts access and participation is included in Thursday’s announcement, along with a full listing of other allocations and initiatives.
Access is clearly the dominant issue: the extension of opening hours for National Institutions has been made a precondition of their increased funding; a new ‘National Cultural Day’ has been mooted; and the document states that as the Arts Council reviews its progress under the current ‘Partnership for the Arts’ plan ‘The Minister will issue a policy instruction to the Arts Council to request that … a strong emphasis is placed on the development of audiences, access to the arts, contemporary dance, choral music, access to musical instruments and actor training.’
The second major theme is probably investment into infrastructure and capital projects, including: support for the National Concert Hall extension, Abbey Theatre relocation, Collins Barracks extension, National Library extension, refurbishment of the Druid in Galway, extension to Gate Theatre, establishment of Irish Chamber Orchestra headquarters, new opera house for the Wexford Festival Opera, five new centres for Comhaltas Ceoltóiri Éireann, the refurbishment of the RHA, revival of the Smock Alley Theatre in Temple Bar, and of course the ACCESS programme.
Wherefore art thou Irish construction slow-down? Apparently not in the arts sector.
Highlights of the plan noted in the Department’s press release include:
- Additional funding of €40 million to commence in 2008 the new round of the Arts and Culture Capital Enhancement Scheme (ACCESS III). Under the first scheme over 40 projects received funding of €43 million and 67 projects were selected under ACCESSII for funding of €32 million, a number of which are still under completion.
- As part of a number of measures to increase access to arts and culture, extended weekend and evening opening hours will be introduced during the year at all National Cultural Institutions.
- Also, as part of the increased access initiative, proposals will be drawn up this year for the launch of a new National Cultural Day, which will begin in 2009, during which admission prices will be removed or reduced for events at publicly funded organisations.
- A doubling of funding for The Arts Council Touring Programme to allow audiences countrywide the opportunity to attend professional theatrical and other artistic and cultural performances. Also, funding for the Abbey Theatre to tour for the first time in years and for the Gate Theatre to take Beckett’s Waiting for Godot to 40 venues around the country.
- Restoration of the Heritage Fund, which is now virtually depleted, to allow for the acquisition of heritage objects which are considered to be outstanding examples of their type and which may otherwise be lost to the country.
- Completion of the design competition for the new National Theatre (The Abbey) and the beginning of the Public Private Partnership process to construct it, and also progressing completion of the PPP competition for the redevelopment of the National Concert Hall.
- Innovative ways forward to develop and expand the Irish film industry to be assessed as part of the renewal and enhancement of the Section 481 Tax Relief scheme, which in 2007 was worth €36 million in investment to the industry.
- Funding for a number of digitization projects, including the next phase of online access to the original records of the 1901-1911 Census of Population and the records of the Royal Dublin Society (RDS)
- And funding for major international arts and cultural events, increased support for regional festivals, North/South cultural initiatives, and community, youth and multicultural programmes.
For the full plans and press release, click here.
Interesting also to see here mention of the new Dublin Biennial, a brainchild of IMMA of which rumours have been circulating for some months:
The Dublin International Art 2010 is a new festival that will be a vibrant internationally recognised and acclaimed art event which will showcase excellence in international art and prove that there is a need for a permanent contemporary arts festival in Ireland … It will aim to become one of the core essential viewings in the arts calendar alongside the major Biennales such as Venice, Liverpool and Istanbul. The first festival is in the planning stage and Dublin International Art, under the auspice of the Irish Museum of Modern Art has already signed up a number of internationally renowned names to headline the event.
So, enough here to keep the arts tongues wagging for a while… !