Catherine Martin TD, Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht today met with the Arts Council to discuss the immediate challenges facing the arts and culture sector, Arts Council funding, the re-opening of venues following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, and how all stakeholders might work together towards a sustainable future for arts, artists and arts workers, in which the sector is recognised and valued for its critical role in Irish society and the Irish economy.
Minister Martin indicated that she was strongly committed to the arts and culture sector and that her objective in Government would be to support the immediate survival of the sector, and to support a strong renewal, with the ultimate aim of
ensuring that art and culture are at the centre of our society, that our artists are recognised and valued, and that the cultural creativity for which Ireland is renowned is reflected in a vibrant sector where artistic livelihoods are properly sustained and supported.
She said that she is committed to working with the Arts Council to support the sector by implementing policies that will sustain the arts throughout the Covid-19 crisis and build resilience for the future, as well as working on a longer term vision for the future of the arts in Ireland.
As a first step, the Minister also announced today she is providing capital grants for arts and culture organisations to enable them to appropriate alterations to help them to reopen safely. Officials in her Department will be engaging with arts and culture organisations over the coming days with a view to assessing what individual supports may be required.
The Minister also indicated that she will shortly establish a multi-disciplinary Task Force to protect and sustain the arts and culture sector through the Covid-19 recovery and beyond building on the commitments in the Programme for Government. The Minister discussed the possible the composition of that Task Force with the Arts Council today and it is expected that an announcement will be made in the coming weeks.
In discussions with the Arts Council Chair, Kevin Rafter, and new Director Maureen Kennelly, Minister Martin praised the Arts Council’s decision to appoint an Expert Advisory Group to respond to the crisis for the arts sector in Ireland and the timely report from the Group Survive, Adapt, Renew which has and will continue to provide valuable guidance on the way forward. The Minister particularly welcomed the leadership role played by the Arts Council in relation to equality, human rights and diversity, which said she strongly supports, noting that the culture sector has a particularly important leadership role to play in promoting and celebrating diversity, equality and human rights values.
Minister Martin said:
The work of the Arts Council’s Expert Advisory Group provides us with a solid base from which to chart a way forward for the sector through these intensely difficult times. I am very pleased and reassured by the work that the Arts Council has been doing to date to ensure the survival of the arts in Ireland and The Council has considerable expertise and experience in the sector which is of enormous help in supporting its recovery. Yesterday I brought my Department’s revised Estimates before the Dáil, securing agreement for an additional €25m for Arts and Culture which includes an additional €20m for the Arts Council and reflects one of the core recommendations from the Expert Advisory Group. I am pleased that the Council decided to give priority in additional funding to enhanced commissioning schemes and increased bursary and professional development schemes. I very much look forward to working with the Council in addressing the immediate challenges facing the sector and in charting a vibrant future for artists, art and culture in Ireland.