Ministers Martin and Foley announce new and enhanced supports for creativity in schools

  • 164 new schools to join Scoileanna Ildánacha/Creative Schools from September 2020
  • 72 additional primary and post-primary schools will join the Schools Excellence Fund – Creative Clusters
  • Participating schools across both programmes to receive increased grant aid for 2020
  • Provision made for increased participation among applicant DEIS schools


Catherine Martin TD, Minister for Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media and Norma Foley TD, Minister for Education today (29 September, 2020) announced details of the new schools that will participate in the Creative Ireland Programme’s flagship in-school programmes – Scoileanna Ildánacha/Creative Schools and Creative Clusters.

Announcing the schools selected to participate in Creative Schools, Minister Martin said: “I am delighted to welcome a further 164 schools as our latest Creative Schools – one of the flagship initiatives of the Creative Ireland Programme. This programme – along with other Creative Ireland initiatives – supports our youngest citizens to not only experience and embrace arts, culture and creativity for the pure enjoyment of it, but to help them discover and develop new skills and talents that enhance their development and growth, and add to the richness of their overall learning experience.”

Announcing the creation of 21 new Creative Clusters, Minister Foley said: “The last few months have been particularly challenging for the whole school community. In these challenging times, it is important that our students are supported to develop their creativity and given flexibility to allow them to face new challenges, and to express themselves in new ways.

“Today 72 schools are coming together to form 21 new Creative Clusters in an initiative which offers schools and students the freedom and flexibility to explore together new and exciting creative areas of interest to them. I would like to welcome these new schools into this Schools Excellence Fund initiative, and I look forward to seeing how these exciting projects develop over the coming years.

In addition to announcing the new schools that will be participating in the third round of each programme, Minister Martin and Minister Foley also announced increased grant support for all schools participating in Creative Schools and Creative Clusters. A total, combined investment in both programmes this year of €3.6 million (an increase of over €700,000 on the original allocations) will see each participating Creative School being awarded a grant of €3,100, while each Creative Cluster will receive an additional €1,000 per school for 2020.

At the same time 2020 will see an increased intake into Creative Schools (from 150 in September 2019 to 164 this year), with all of the additional schools entering the programme being selected from applicant DEIS schools.  These enhancements for 2020 were made possible through the increased investment in the wider culture sector under the Government’s COVID-19 response and economic stimulus investment.

Minister Martin added: “I am particularly pleased that as part of the additional resources I have made available to the Arts Council during these unprecedented times, they have been in a position to facilitate an increased intake into Creative Schools this year – and that these additional places have been targeted at DEIS schools. This increased investment will enable even more children and young people to experience the joy of creative activity – to quote one of the teachers who has engaged with the programme over the past two years ‘If a child is happy and engaged and connected at school then their learning experience is going to be richer full stop’.”

Maureen Kennelly, Director of the Arts Council said: “The Arts Council is committed to providing children and young people with more opportunities to participate in and enjoy the arts. Through the Creative Schools initiative thousands of young people from all across Ireland have had the opportunity to experience the arts in their school environment. Working with artists, teachers, arts organisations and the whole school community, Creative Schools offers a wonderful opportunity for children and young people to explore their creativity. We are delighted that this year the initiative will be supporting a further 164 schools and that many more children and young people will have this opportunity to participate in the arts in a very tangible and meaningful way.”




The Creative Ireland Programme is a culture-based programme, all of Government initiative which places creativity at the centre of public policy, and is designed to promote individual, community and national wellbeing. Scoileanna Ildánacha/Creative Schools, Creative Clusters and the Local Creative Youth Partnerships are supported under Pillar 1 – Creative Youth. You can find out more here.

Scoileanna Ildánacha/Creative Schools is a flagship initiative of the Creative Ireland Programme and is led by the Arts Council in partnership with the Department of Education & Skills, the Department of Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht and the Department of Children & Youth Affairs.

  • Creative Schools was launched in 2018, with 150 schools selected to participate in the first round (commencing at the start of the 2018/19 academic year) and a further 150 in the second round (2019/20 academic year).
  • The intake for the third round (commencing September 2020) has been increased to 164.
  • Schools that are selected to participate are provided with access to a “Creative Associate” to assist in developing a creative plan for each school – Creative Associates may be either teachers or from a range of creative professions who draw on their practical experience of ‘creativity’ to respond to each school’s individual needs.
  • Each school is allocated a grant of €2,000 to implement their individual plans. An additional grant of €1,100 is being provided to all participating schools on a once-off basis for 2020.
  • Total funding of more than 3 million is being provided in 2020 to Creative Schools.

Details of new schools participating in Creative Schools from September 2020 are available here: http://www.artscouncil.ie/creative-schools/schools-2020-21/

Creative Clusters is a pilot initiative of the Department of Education and Skills, led by and in partnership with the Teacher Education Centres (ATECI) and funded through the Schools Excellence Fund. A Creative Cluster consists of between 2 and 5 schools collaborating on the design, implementation, evaluation and dissemination of an innovative arts and creative learning project which supports them to address a common issue or challenge, identified by that cluster. Clusters can consist of primary schools only, post-primary schools only or a combination of primary and post primary schools.

  • The Creative Clusters initiative commenced in the 2018-19 academic year with 23 clusters established comprising 71 schools countrywide.
  • In the academic year 2019-20, 21 Creative Clusters, of 5 schools each, comprising 77 schools were established.
  • From September 2020, a total of 72 schools in 21 Clusters will join the initiative:

The School Excellence Fund is an initiative in the Department of Education to encourage and recognise excellence and innovation in our schools. The Schools Excellence Fund is operating in a range of areas. These are:

  • SEF Creative
  • SEF Digital
  • SEF Gaeltacht
  • SEF Step Up

Details of new schools participating in Creative Clusters from September 2020 are available here: https://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Information/Curriculum-and-Syllabus/creative-cluster-2020-2022.pdf

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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