The Chairman of the Arts Council, Ms Pat Moylan, has said the State should not take such a narrow view of stimuli for the economy and it needs to get away from the Celtic Tiger thinking that the only stimulus jobs that can be created are in construction.
Speaking at the Arts Council briefing on the arts sector, Ms Moylan said all stimuli plans have to be welcomed including the latest decisions regarding schools, roads and transport.
"However if the State is going to invest its reserves, it should do so in an imaginative way that will reap a sustainable dividend for the country."
"Sometimes there is too traditional a view that what creates jobs quickly are construction projects only. This is narrow thinking. The arts has untapped potential, already supports almost 21,000 jobs and contributes significantly to the economy."
"The arts are job intensive and create an unmatched dividend for Ireland in reputation as well as fostering innovation and ideas. In a global environment where Ireland needs to be known for things other than tax and bad banks, the arts give Ireland a glow and a competitive edge. The arts play a role in developing a flexible, creative and innovative workforce and are playing a part in the recovery with spin off industries like gaming which depends so much on creativity and artistic content."
"The work of the Arts Council continues to be affected by the national economic difficulties. We have less funds than we had five years ago, with a 30 per cent cut in state funding."
The Arts Council received €63.24 million in grant in aid from the Exchequer for 2012 and €59.865 million for 2013. Ms Orlaith Mc Bride, Director of the Council, said a measure of the endurance, courage and creativity of Irish arts organisations and artists is that despite the ever decreasing funding, the Council received almost 3,500 applications for its various award programmes.
"This level of application shows the untapped potential of the sector if more funding was available. The risk of continuing cuts and limited investment funds is that great ideas are lost and access to great art is reduced. The arts have the potential to be central to a creative sector that could generate major economic activity and employment."
Only one in four applications by individual artists are able to be funded due to limited resources, while nearly two out of every three applications by arts organisations have to be rejected. The Arts Council funds 180 festivals each year, 158 of them small ones which are vital to tourism, local economies and summer memories for tourists and young people especially. The Council supports 150 bursaries for individual artists, as well as commissions and touring of shows.
"In the midst of real difficulty artists and arts organisations react with inspired courage for the future. Irish artists are the living source of inspiration and excellence that animate our cultural life nationally and continue to do so despite many, many challenges including, like with others in society, unemployment, emigration and poverty."
The Arts Council supports almost 50 venues across the country with every county represented as part of its long standing partnership with local authorities. "Working with venues is a key way of realizing greater access to and for the arts," Ms McBride said. "Partnership with local authorities is one of the most important relationships for the Arts Council and for the arts in Ireland. The Arts Council continues to support the work of the 34 local authority arts services in Ireland and engages strategically with local authorities on arts matters."
For the first time in many years, an Abbey main-stage production, The Plough and the Stars, toured regionally to three venues in 2012. Highlights during 2012 for the Council included the celebration of its 60th birthday with a major series of visual art exhibitions called Into the Light with four prominent galleries. The President Mr Higgins visited the Council at its office at Merrion Square, Dublin to mark the anniversary. 2012 was a major year for architecture with four practices represented at the Venice Architecture Biennale. In 2012, 157 Aosdana members benefited from the Cnuas.