Irish Department of Arts

Irish Department of Arts

In Ireland, government policy on visual arts in Ireland is coordinated by the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism. The Minister For the Arts is a full member of the Cabinet - the top governmental committee.

In the execution of its general responsibility for national culture in Ireland, the Department of the Arts aims to:

• Formulate, develop and evaluate policies to promote and foster the practice and appreciation of the creative arts and the Irish film industry.
• Enable Irish art organizations, to preserve, protect and present their moveable heritage and cultural assets for the benefit of current and future generations of Irish people.
• Provide appropriate resources to support the stimulation and development of Irish art, in such a way as to facilitate access to the arts by the widest number of people.
• Implement its arts strategies through An Chomhairle Ealaíon (the Arts Council) according to the "arms-length" principle, under which the Department has no involvement in individual funding decisions by the Council.

The Irish Department of Arts is advised and assisted in this task by two subsidiary bodies. The Irish Arts Council, an autonomous agency which promotes and develops the arts in Ireland, and Ireland Culture (Cultúr Na hÉireann), the body that promotes Irish Artists and cultural activities overseas. The Department's funds to the Arts are principally distributed through the Arts Council.

The Irish government traditionally places great importance on National Culture as a vital element in helping to maintain the image and identity of Ireland. For example, in the visual arts, it campaigns to secure the promotion of certain national archeological treasures (eg. Newgrange) as UN World Heritage sites; it supports the participation of Irish painting and Irish sculpture in numerous annual and bi-annual international art exhibitions; and it maintains numerous national art museums - such as, the National Gallery of Ireland, the National Museum of Ireland (NMI) (Ard-Mhúsaem na hÉireann), the National Self-Portrait Collection of Ireland, and the Museum of Modern Art.

One recent example of the promotion of Irish visual art, was the celebration of the city of Cork as a European Capital of Culture, in 2005. The year-long event was supported by the Department of the Arts, Cork City Council and the EU, and witnessed a wide program of cultural activities and artworks including: paintings, sculpture, theatre, dance, workshops, seminars and exhibitions. During 2005, more than one million people, attended official Cork Capital of Culture events.

Public Art Scheme

In 2004 the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism launched Per Cent for Art Scheme, which meant that any public capital projects should allocate a percentage of their budget for public art work. Construction projects must now allow up to 1% of their overall budget for art (eg. public sculptures) - generally speaking it allows for art tenders between €25,000 and €65,000.

Grants for Cultural Infrastructure

ACCESS 2 as the current scheme is known as, aims to provide funding to arts facilities by way of enhancement or refurbishment. 70 per cent of funding was allocated to existing facilities and 30 per cent towards new ventures. A total of 67 projects received capital funding of €32m between 2007 and 2009 through this scheme. Beneficiaries in 2008 included Sirus Arts Centre, Cobh (€1.6m), Garage Theatre, Monaghan (€2m), Limerick City Gallery of Art (€960k), Ballina Arts Centre (€1.2m), Solstice Arts Centre (€390k) and the Lantern Municipal Gallery, Kildare (€580k).

Other beneficiaries of this scheme in the past include West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen, National Sculpture Factory, Cork; Dublin City Council Artists Studios; The Project Arts Centre, Dublin; RHA; Solas Picture House, Galway; An Daingean Boatyard Arts & Cultural Centre, Kerry; Leitrim Sculpture Centre; Belltable Arts Centre, Limerick; Linenhall Arts Centre, Mayo; Tullamore Library & Arts Centre, Offaly; Roscommon Arts Centre; Waterford Healing Arts Trust; Mullingar Arts Centre, Westmeath and the Wexford Arts Centre.

For more information about the Department For The Arts, telephone: (+353) 01-631-3800.

• 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.

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