03 December 2013: Arts Council publishes Strategic Statement

The Arts Council, the Irish Government agency for funding and developing the arts, today published a Strategic Statement, which outlines its strategic direction, key goals and objectives as its moves into 2014. The document, which can be read in full here (PDF, 0.44 MB), is published at a time of significant change in the arts, and addresses challenges and opportunities.

In a statement, Arts Council Chairman Pat Moylan said that the context for the Strategic Statement lies in the fact that the arts confer enormous public benefit.

"That benefit is manifold: it ranges from truth and beauty, through social cohesion and community identity, via innovation and the creative industries, to cultural tourism and foreign direct investment," Ms Moylan said. "Viewed from any of these perspectives, the arts are Ireland's signature, our hallmark, our calling card"

Central to the Strategic Statement is a commitment by the Arts Council to carry out a Strategic Review in 2014, examining all aspects of what the agency does, and likely framing its work for years to come.

Ms Moylan added: "Ten years after the 2003 Arts Act and five years after the high-water mark of public investment in the arts through the Arts Council, I am now firmly of the view that it is crucial that the Arts Council engages in a fundamental examination of how it addresses its remit."

Arts Council Director Orlaith McBride said that the scale of the reduction in public funding for the arts over the past five years, and its effect on the entire arts ecology, have now reached the point where the agency must take stock, focus on the future, and make whatever policy, structural or funding changes were necessary to achieve the best arts experiences for the people of Ireland.

"The wider social, cultural and technological changes that have occurred in the past decade, some of which have particular relevance for the arts, will also inform our deliberations, Ms McBride said.

The review will be overseen by a steering group chaired independently by Terence O'Rourke, and will have Arts Council and external membership. It will begin its work in January 2014 and report to the Council in the summer. Its findings are therefore likely to shape Arts Council investment from 2015 onwards.

The agency said the full terms of reference for the Strategic Review would be available on its website in the weeks ahead, but issued for guidance the following General Statement of Purpose:

General Statement of Purpose

The Arts Council is undertaking a review of how it addresses its remit so as to inform future policy and strategy.

  • This Strategic Review is being undertaken ten years after the 2003 Arts Act in a rapidly changing cultural context and at a time of significant constraint on the public finances.
  • The Arts Council has instituted this review so as to benefit from a process of detailed deliberation and analysis.
  • The process - overseen by a Steering Group chaired independently and including external experts - will include an examination of key aspects of the Arts Council's work and will be informed by dialogue with stakeholders, partners and those in the arts sector.
  • The findings of the review will inform Arts Council thinking about how it interprets and implements its remit to support and develop the arts.
  • The findings will help to shape future Arts Council actions and decisions across the four pillars of its work: Advice, Advocacy, Investment, and Partnership.
Desert Rose, (oil on board) - Colin Middleton, 1975, Arts Council Virtual Gallery.
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Desert Rose, (oil on board) - Colin Middleton, 1975, Arts Council Virtual Gallery.

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