The Arts Council acknowledges the rich variety of artform practice areas presented by festivals and their critical role in broadening public access to the arts. Festivals are often central to a community expressing and exploring its local identity, providing access to the arts in areas of low engagement and providing significant opportunities for artists to develop their practice.
Russango Family. First Fortnight. Tramline, Dublin 2017. (Photo: Kieran Frost)
The strategic context for the Arts Council’s support of festivals and events and all other artforms and areas of arts practice is set out in Making Great Art Work: Arts Council Strategy (2016 –2025) (PDF, 3.29 MB). It describes how we will lead the development of the arts in Ireland over the next decade. Our strategy has five priority areas: the artist; public engagement; investment strategy; spatial and demographic planning; and developing capacity. Current Festivals Policy is aligned to the key objectives and desired outcomes of MGAW and can be viewed here: Festivals Policy and Strategy 2018 (PDF, 0.49 MB).
Provides a suite of financial supports to different festival models
The Arts Council’s role is to advocate for a diverse and varied arts festival ecology and to provide a chain of funding supports that encourage: models of national and international significance and best practice, models that increase opportunities for public engagement or develop the work of an artist/artform, support for small festivals to deliver quality arts experiences for audiences and festival programmes engaged with, and relevant to the local community.
Often festivals are the highlights on cultural calendars in communities large and small all around Ireland. The Arts Council provides financial support to a number of single artform festivals (e.g. theatre, dance, film) and such festivals are supported within the policy context of those artforms. We also support many multidisciplinary arts festivals, meaning those festivals that programme across different artforms, including literature, music, street arts, theatre, visual arts and different areas of arts practice.
In 2017 the Arts Council:
- provided funding support to 155 small festivals across Ireland in every county and every artform
- Introduced the Festival Investment Scheme (FIS). A recalibrated funding stream (focused on strategic investment for small festivals and providing opportunities for their capacity building) aligned to the Arts Council’s Making Great Art Work strategy. The new scheme launched in October 2017 with an increased budget commitment of €1.4million
- supported 22 Local Authorities with funding to enable festivals to take place in their localities
- Introduced Strategic Funding which ensured the continuation of annual support to 8 multi-disciplinary festivals and funding for 18 single artform festivals across Ireland. The total strategic funding investment to the arts festival ecology in 2017 was €5.95 million
The Arts Council aims to support festivals that
- make a critical contribution to innovative arts practice and provide arts experiences for a large and diverse audience
- assist artists in developing their practice
- commit to interpreting the arts in new and challenging ways and developing audiences to engage with such work.