Minister Madigan speaking at The Arts Council announcement of its investment in the arts for 2019


Chairman, Sheila Pratschke, Director, Orlaith McBride, Ladies and gentlemen.

Is cúis áthais dom filleadh ar an gComhairle Ealaíon, agus gabhaim mo bhuíochas libh as ucht cuireadh a thabhairt dom an infheistíocht tábhachtach seo a fhógair do 2019.

One of the most important resources the Arts Council brings to the arts in Ireland is its expertise. That expertise is deployed in a synergy of myriad partnerships across the arts, with arts organisations, with local authorities, with communities of special interest and it connects the practice of the arts here, with best practice internationally.

People and communities across Ireland will benefit in 2019 from an investment of more than €75 million in the arts. That investment in artists and in bringing the experience of art into people’s lives, is much more than just money. Firstly there is the synergy of partnership, because much of this money enables more to flow. It is part of a virtuous circle, a cross current of investment that includes local authorities, a wide range of other organisations and the box office.

It is a statement too of public support for the arts. It is a statement that the arts and artists matter. It is not possible to interpret or imagine our country without the vision and the practice of our artists. All art is the cumulative expression of the artists’ experience. That experience is found in the dense, interconnecting spheres of arts practise and support.

This year the practical facts of that support include for example investment of €37.2 million through the Council’s Strategic Funding programme. This includes grants to key arts organisations across the country.

A further €12.6 million will be invested through the Arts Grant Funding scheme alongside awards for hundreds of projects, productions, touring and festivals.

Supports for individual artists, through the Aosdána cnuas, bursaries, commissions, residencies and travel and training grants will reach €5.9 million. Local Authorities, Ealaín na Gaeltachta, and arts venues will receive €8.4 million. Development funding for 2019 will be €5 million. This investment is for maintaining and building on a huge range of long-term initiatives.

It will support the work of Laureate na n-Óg. It will enable artists work with children and young people, with the disability sector and in health. It will support expert advice, and the Council’s RAISE programme, to build capacity within arts and to organisations to attract private giving.

Creative Schools is led by the Arts Council in partnership with the Department of Education and Skills and my Department under the umbrella of the Creative Ireland Programme. This year will see increased investment in schools in every region of the country. Part of this, our shared vision for the arts, is enabling the creative potential of every child, in every community. I’m delighted that both Departments have been able to give additional funds to the Arts Council on top of the allocation announced on Budget Day.

In theatre, the Arts Council has granted funding to the Abbey Theatre to undertake an extensive programme of work for audiences, both at its home theatre and on tour. The Council will also support the development and presentation of new work in co-production with some of the most exciting theatre artists working in Ireland today.

Separately, the Arts Council continues to invest in established theatre producing organisations such as the Gate, Druid Theatre Company and Rough Magic, as well as companies presenting new work to audiences in new types of ways such as ANU, Broken Talkers and Thisispopbaby.

In 2019 supports for opera will total €5.4 million.  As part of a multi-annual funding agreement, the Council is supporting Irish National Opera present an extensive programme of main-scale opera and of smaller-scale, nationwide touring opera. This will also support festival opera, independent opera production and development as well as many individual artists.

Music investment this year will be €5.2 million. This includes increased strategic funding support for major professional performing groups including the Irish Chamber Orchestra and the Irish Baroque orchestra, Chamber Choir Ireland and Crash Ensemble.

It will support resource and support organisations including First Music Contact, Improvised Music Company, Association of Irish Choirs, Music Network and Contemporary Music Centre. Increased investment has also been provided to West Cork Music for its national and international important festivals programme.

Substantial Arts Grant funding programmes, Music Projects, commissions, bursaries and other supports for individual artists are also continued and strengthened.

I could go on, because the detail is so important to individual artists and organisations. All of the funding decisions of course are published in full by the Arts Council. What I have highlighted is the interwoven complexity of the arts. No art form and no arts organisation is an island. All lean-in, one on another. The actuality of arts practice, is the ecosystem I have spoken of.

The purpose of this public money is set out in the mission given to the Arts Council in legislation. It is to stimulate public interest in the arts, to promote knowledge, appreciation and practice of the arts, to assist in improving standards in the arts and to advise the Minister and other public bodies on the arts. That is the expertise the Council brings to bear in its funding decisions. Delivering on its mission, the Council’s strategy Making Great Art Work identifies the artist and public engagement as its two governing and inter-dependent priorities. Artists are supported to make excellent work which is enjoyed and valued so that more people will enjoy high-quality arts experiences.

All art is ultimately for the audience. The Arts Council has rightly prioritised the strategies that reach out as broadly and as boldly as possible. Art is a transforming experience. It is great public events that move us and create memorable spectacles. Equally it is deeply private and introspective. It is food for the journey of life. It is interpretation of what otherwise we cannot make sense of. Art explains and curates our experience. It enlarges and enlivens our senses.

It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said “Every artist was first an amateur”

Today, I have spoken of the practical facts of monetary support. But the fact of art, is that it is a currency that cannot be counted.

Before I conclude I would like to pay tribute to Sheila Pratschke, whose term of office as Chair of the Arts Council expires shortly.  Sheila has advocated tirelessly for the arts during her time as Chair while at the same time bringing her considerable governance strengths to bear on the key organisation charged with providing support to artists and arts organisations.  Guím gach rath uirthi sna blianta atá romhainn.

Thank you

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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