The Arts Council today announced that it has awarded €3.3m in bursaries over the past three years to allow 375 Irish artists develop their full potential and create great work.
The positive impact of the funding was recognised today at a special outdoor concert in Merrion Square Park where An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, delivered a keynote address which celebrated Irish artistic talent, creativity and potential.
The Arts Council, the body responsible for funding, developing and promoting the arts in Ireland, hosted the event.
Throughout the day, there were a range of onstage performances from internationally renowned Irish artists such as Julie Feeney, Iarla Ó Lionáird and Anne Enright, many of whom received Arts Council bursaries or other help at the beginning of their careers.
There was also a special tribute to the late Seamus Heaney who was himself an Arts Council bursary award recipient.
Each year, the Arts Council receives hundreds of applications for financial assistance from emerging artists, as well as those already becoming established but not yet commercially successful. The artistic talent is so significant, and resources so scarce, that the bursaries scheme is highly competitive, with just one artist succeeding for every seven that apply.
The Arts Council bursaries, which are up to a maximum of €15,000 per annum, help artists who have no other income to alleviate the financial pressure of pursing their talents.
Speaking at the event, Pat Moylan, Chairman of the Arts Council, said:
"Turning potential into success requires three elements - talent, time and funding. The talent Ireland possesses is unquestionable. However, no matter how talented an individual is, it may take time for their potential to be realised and it certainly requires money, especially at the beginning of a career.
This is the reason that Arts Council bursaries are so important to those who receive them. They offer the breathing space which is so necessary in order to allow ideas to flourish.
Artists have been receiving Arts Council bursaries for decades now and rarely have they been as important as they are today, with many people under financial pressure.
The purpose of an Arts Council bursary is to support professional artists at all stages in their careers and in the development of their arts practice. The aim of the award is to allow artists, working in any context or in any art form, to buy space and freedom to concentrate on a body of work that will ultimately benefit the wider community."
Speaking today, Orlaith McBride, Director of the Arts Council, said:
"Ireland’s artistic future is represented through the bursary winners here today. Throughout the world, this country is recognised as a hub of imagination and creativity. It is by nurturing and encouraging this creativity that we are able to retain and enhance our reputation on the global stage.
By supporting indigenous talent, the Arts Council is ensuring that communities across Ireland will continue to benefit from great art many years from now. I would like to highly commend and thank each one of the bursary award recipients here today for their rigorous devotion to their craft."
Some of the artists who have in the past received Arts Council bursaries include Seamus Heaney, Louis Stewart, Enda Walsh, Jean Butler, Jim Sheridan, Marina Carr, John Banville, Frankie Gavin, Seoirse Bodley, Robert Ballagh, Mark O'Rowe, Camille Souter, Colum McCann, Alice Maher, Sebastian Barry, Bob Quinn, Olwen Fouéré, John Gerard, John Behan, Graham Knuttel, Dorothy Cross, Colm Toibín, Bill Whelan, Patricia Bardon, Máirtín O'Connor, Colin Dunne and Gerald Barry.