Funding for culture and the arts has declined since the onset of the recession. Despite a commitment in the 2011 Programme for Government to develop a ‘cultural plan for future commemorative events’ and an announcement in 2014 by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht that the Government had approved plans to draft a National Cultural Policy by 2016,1no progress has been made.
The Arts Council continues to be the Government’s main conduit for supporting the arts but by its own admission, the Council’s primary aim is ‘funding the professional arts sector’.2 Although funding for the Arts Council rose by 14.3 per cent between 2005 and 2009, the inflation rate of 14.6 per cent neutralised this increase.3 Like other cultural and arts bodies including the National Cultural Institutions, funding for the Arts Council has continued to decline since the economic crisis as can be seen in the following chart.4
Figure 9: State Expenditure on Culture and Arts 2011-2014
A 2014 review highlighted a potential ‘disconnect’ between the arts as funded by the Arts Council and ‘significant cohorts of the population’ as it places ‘little emphasis on engagement and participation as a fundamental and valued aspect of the arts in Irish society’.5
There is an under-participation of people from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Community arts projects have evolved since the 1980s and 1990s through youth services, family supports, the Community Development Programme and the Drugs Task Force but they have all suffered significant cuts since the beginning of the recession.6 While there remains a lack of data about the resources dedicated to cultural inclusion,7 there is evidence to indicate that people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds with lower levels of educational attainment display equal levels of interest in the arts but are ‘many times less likely’ to participate in cultural events than their better-off counterparts.8 Both the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion9 and Towards 201610 recognise the need to address a cultural deficit and enable marginalised people to participate in cultural activities. Income generated by the National Lottery accounts for the majority of funding allocated to the arts through the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Arts Council.11 However, the regressive nature of this funding, due to the higher numbers of people from lower socio-economic groups playing the National Lottery, is not offset by the allocation of this funding to arts initiatives as they are less likely to participate in, or benefit from, these activities.12
Despite an Oireachtas (Parliamentary) Committee hearing in 2012 to consider how best to support and ensure the participation of disadvantaged groups in cultural life, no recommendations or actions have been issued.13 A Community Culture Strategy was developed and proposed by the community arts and culture organisation Blue Drum; however, in response the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht did not offer financial support for the strategy making it clear that ‘much of the programmes aimed at community arts fall outside the remit of this Department and the Arts Council’.14
Many migrants face the same difficulties as other groups in accessing their cultural rights and participating in the arts, with the added disadvantages of language barriers15 and the ‘prevalent tendency in the arts to fix minorities in terms of traditional cultures’.16 However, migrant artists also face these difficulties as the Irish arts community is often seen as a ‘closed community’.17 The Arts Council has put in place a Cultural Diversity and the Arts Policy and Strategy, noting a lack of funding and support for intercultural arts practices.18 Given the diverse make-up of the population there is a greater need than ever to ‘better understand the experiences of immigrant and culturally diverse artists, art professionals and cultural workers’.19
FLAC urges the Committee to recommend that the State:
Ensure that disadvantaged individuals and groups are able to access and enjoy their cultural rights through targeted inclusion measures including community arts initiatives.
Consider and adopt a Community Culture Strategy.
Provide the Arts Council with adequate resources to implement the Cultural Diversity and the Arts Policy and Strategy.
1 Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, ‘Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, T.D., announces plans to draft a National Cultural Policy – Culture 2025’ [press release], 24 June 2014.
2 Arts Council (2014) Inspiring Prospects: Arts Council Strategic Review 2014 – Report of the Steering Group, Dublin: Arts Council, p.4.
3 M. Fitzgibbon, Compendium Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe: Ireland, available online at: http://bit.ly/CulturalPolicyIreland [accessed 6 August 2014].
4 The National Institutions include the Chester Beatty Library, the Crawford Gallery, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the National Archives, the National Gallery the National Library and the National Museum.
5 Arts Council (2014) Inspiring Prospects: Arts Council Strategic Review 2014 – Report of the Steering Group, Dublin: Arts Council, pp.4-5.
6 Blue Drum & Equality and Rights Alliance (2014) Cultural Rights in Ireland: A Joint Submission to ICESCR, Dublin: Equality and Rights Alliance & Blue Drum, pp.2-3.
7 National Economic and Social Forum (2007) The Arts, Cultural Inclusion and Social Cohesion, Dublin: NESF.
8 P. Lunn and E. Kelly (2008) In the Frame or Out of the Picture: A Statistical Analysis of Public Involvement in the Arts, Dublin: Economic & Social Research Institute.
9 Government of Ireland (2007) National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2007-2016, Dublin: Stationery Office, p.70.
10 Government of Ireland (2006) Towards 2016: Ten Year Framework Social Partnership Agreement 2006-2015, Dublin: Stationery Office, p.36.
11 Department of Public Expenditure (2013) 2014 Revised Estimates for Public Services, Dublin: Stationery Office, p.228.
12 F. Crowley, J. Eakins and D. Jordan, ‘Participation, Expenditure and Regressivity in the Irish Lottery: Evidence from Irish Household Budget Survey 2004/2005’, Economic and Social Review, Vol. 43, No.2, Summer, 2012, pp.199-225.
13 Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht, Utilising the Arts to Combat Disadvantage: Discussion, 13 March 2012, http://bit.ly/JOCDebateArts [accessed 30 July 2014].
14 Letter from former Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Mr Deenihan TD to community arts organisation Blue Drum dated 4 March 2014 in response to the Community Culture Strategy, which looked to renew, refresh and reinvent Community Arts. The full strategy is available to download at http://bit.ly/CommunityCulturalStrategy [accessed 31 July 2014].
15 R. Wakely (2013) Research Report into the practices of Professional Artists from Immigrant, New Communities and Traveller backgrounds, Dublin: RW International, p.3. This report was commissioned by South Dublin County Council Arts Office and Social Inclusion Unit, Dublin City County Social Inclusion Unit, Tallaght Community Arts and New Communities Partnership with the support of Dublin City Arts Office and CPLN Partnership and the Arts Council Local Partnership Scheme.
16 D. Jewesbury, J.Singh, S. Tuck (2009) Cultural Diversity and the Arts: Final Report, Dublin: Create & the Arts Council, p.43.
17 R. Wakely (2013) Research Report into the practices of Professional Artists from Immigrant, New Communities and Traveller backgrounds, Dublin: RW International, p.20.
18 Arts Council (2010) Cultural Diversity and the Arts: Policy and Strategy, Dublin: Arts Council, p.5.
19 R. Wakely (2013) Research Report into the practices of Professional Artists from Immigrant, New Communities and Traveller backgrounds, Dublin: RW International, p.20.
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