Irish Arts Council

Arts Council (An Chomhairle Ealaíon)

Established in 1951 and based in Dublin, the Arts Council (An Chomhairle Ealaíon) is an autonomous semi-state body responsible to and funded by the Department of Arts. It functions as the lead national agency for the promotion of Irish art, including the improvement of public knowledge and awareness and practice of Irish culture. The Arts Council comprises 12 members and a chairperson - all of whom serve voluntarily and are appointed by the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism for a period of five years.

Arts Council Board

Membership of the Arts Council Board (2010) is as follows:

Pat Moylan (Theatre & Film Director)
Maurice Foley (Private Collector)
John Crumlish (Manager, Galway Arts Festival)
Louise Donlon (Director of the Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise)
Paul Johnson (Chief Executive, Dance Ireland)
Fiona Kearney (Director of the Lewis Glucksman Gallery, UCC)
Philip King (Filmmaker and Musician)
Orlaith McBride (Director of the National Association for Youth Drama)
Aibhlín McCrann (Musician and Communications Consultant)
Sheelagh O’Neill
Caroline Senior (Director of Garter Lane Arts Centre, Waterford)
Alan Stanford (Actor)
Colm Tóibín (Writer)

Working under the board and implementing its directives is the Arts Council executive, comprising a Director and a staff of 48. A number of specialist advisers, who furnish additional expertise on different areas of the arts - such as Irish painting and Irish sculpture, and different aspects of the Irish art market - are employed on a consultancy basis.

In recognition of the fact that the arts have a central contribution to make to Irish society, government support for the Arts Council increased substantially over recent years. The Arts Council 2008 budget was €82 million (1997: €26.4 million). The majority of this comes from the Exchequer, a portion from the National Lottery and also private trust funds. However, in line with economic conditions funding has decreased since 2008. The Arts Council were allocated a grant of €75.7 million in 2009 and €68 million in 2010. As a result a number of art organisations have ceased to be funded in 2010.

Arts Council - Specific Tasks/Aims

Under the Arts Act (2003), the Arts Council's principal goals are to:

• Stimulate public interest in the arts;
• Promote the appreciation and practice of the arts;
• Help to raise standards in the arts;
• Advise the Minister and other state agencies on cultural and artistic matters.

These goals are advanced through the provision of financial assistance to Irish art organisations, as well as other individuals/bodies involved in the promotion of the arts, through the provision of advice and information to the Irish Government and other organizations, through the support of joint arts projects, and via the publication of research and information to promote Irish arts and artists.

Specific details of the Arts Council’s current work can be seen in "Partnership for the Arts", a strategic 5-year plan which outlines the Council’s priorities for the visual arts in Ireland during the period 2006-2010.

Support For Irish Visual Arts

Note that the Arts Council is the only national agency which offers financial support to individual Irish artists to assist them in developing their skills and practice. This funding is enhanced by Arts Council funding of a range of visual art festivals, and local art programs.

Note: Irish crafts are promoted and funded through the Crafts Council of Ireland.

Irish Arts Council - More Information

For more details about the contribution of the Arts Council to Irish life and culture:

- Telephone: (+353) 01-618-0200, or
- See:, or
- Visit the Arts Council at 70 Merrion Square, Dublin 2.

• For facts about the art industry in Ireland, see: Homepage.
• For a personal view of the top 20 contemporary fine art painters, see: Best Irish Artists.
• For the evolution of sculpture and painting in the 32 counties, see: History of Irish Art.
• For details of museums and contemporary arts venues, see: Irish Art Galleries.

© All rights reserved.