12 February 2014: Arts Council strategic review 2014 terms of reference announced

The terms of reference for the Arts Council Strategic Review 2014 have been announced along with details of the steering group.

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 all of its work.

Terms of Reference

  1. To conduct a review of key aspects of the work of the Arts Council and of their outcomes.

  2. Taking account of the economic and public sector context in which the Arts Council operates and in particular of the impacts since 2008 of that significantly altered environment, to consider the challenges likely to arise in the medium-term; and to make suggestions as to how the Arts Council might best plan undertake its work in the future.

  3. Taking account of likely resources (human and financial) in the medium-term and of the dependency on the Arts Council that characterises much present provision, to examine the viability and sustainability of current models of support and to propose possible actions to maximise the benefits of likely available resources, including attending to flexible and scalable models of provision.

  4. To give consideration in its analysis and proposals to the possibilities that lie in models of cultural practice (production / dissemination / reception) linked to digital technology.

  5. To consider new strategic actions which might complement or replace existing actions and so assist the Arts Council in addressing its statutory functions.

  6. To provide a focus and process for dialogue with stakeholders and partners in the arts and other relevant fields to address issues of common concern.

  7. To undertake such research (including comparative study from other fields in Ireland or from the arts abroad) as would inform the review.

  8. To report to the Arts Council on its findings and to propose options or otherwise make suggestions as to existing strategies, actions and models of provision it might (a) maintain; (b) alter; (c) cease; and new strategies, actions and models it might undertake whether unilaterally or in partnership.

Biographical notes on members

Lenny Abrahamson

Lenny Abrahamson was born in Dublin and in his twenties won a scholarship to study for a PhD in Philosophy in Stanford University. He failed to complete this however and returned to Ireland to take up filmmaking, initially directing commercials, filming a popular series of adverts for Carlsberg. Abrahamson's first film was Adam and Paul, a black comedy that featured a pair of heroin addicts as they made their way around Dublin in search of a fix. The follow up film to this was 2007's Garage, starring Pat Short as a lonely petrol station attendant in rural Ireland. Both films won the IFTA award for best film. Also in 2007, RTE screened Abrahamson's four-part TV mini-series Prosperity, which was written in collaboration with Mark O'Halloran, the co-writer of Adam and Paul and Garage. Like these two films, Prosperity focused on people on the fringes of Irish society, with each one-hour episode focusing on a specific character, including an alcoholic, a single mother, and an asylum seeker. In 2012 Abrahamson won his third IFTA for best film with What Richard Did, the most successful Irish film of 2012. Abrahamson is currently producing Frank, a film about eccentric musician Frank Sidebottom. The film stars Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson and Maggie Gyllenhall. In 2013 it was announced that he was to adapt Emma Donoghue's best-selling novel Room.

Anne Connolly

Anne has been the Executive Director of Ageing Well Network, an independent network of senior policy makers and managers from government departments and agencies, private sector companies, NGOs and academics from 2006 to end 2013.  Its objective was to engage a wide range of senior decision makers in developing and implementing new approaches to population ageing and improving the quality of life of older adults. Prior to that she ran her own management consultancy practice for 12 years, working with public, private and voluntary organisations developing their strategic plans and implementing change programmes. Clients ranged from MNCs  such as Siemens Aviva, Waterfored Crystal to Irish companies such as Kingspan,  Building Societies as well to NGOs like SVP. During that period she worked with the Arts Council, supporting the development of two Arts Plans and facilitating the development of strategies for different art forms.  Non Executive board positions currently include SEAI (Sustainable Energy Agency Ireland) and the Fabulous Beast Dance Company. Previous board positions included An Post, Chair of Simon Community Ireland, ICC Bank, APSO.

John Fanning

John Fanning is a specialist in advertising, branding, marketing and communication and currently lectures on these areas at UCD’s Smurfit School of Business. He was Managing Director of McConnell’s Advertising for more than 30 years, is the author of The Importance of Being Branded: An Irish Perspective (Liffey Press, 2006) and many articles in the press. He has a long-standing commitment to the arts, and has served on the boards of the Abbey Theatre and Rough Magic Theatre Company.  He has recently completed a PhD in the English Department in UCD on the cultural connections between Thomas Kinsella, Sean Ó Riada and T.K. Whitaker in the 1950s and 1960s.

Bríd Horan

Currently Deputy CEO of ESB, Brid Horan oversees ESB’s strategy development, corporate communications and compliance, as well as NIE Networks, providing electricity network services for Northern Ireland. She also has overall responsibility for ESB’s sponsorship and related activities.
In recent years, as Executive Director she led the transformation of ESB’s retail businesses from a regulated model to a fully competitive and newly branded business, Electric Ireland.  Before joining ESB in 1997 as Group Pensions Manager, Brid headed KPMG Pension & Actuarial Consulting.  An Actuary and a Chartered Director, Brid was a Commissioner of the National Pensions Reserve Fund from 2001 to 2009 and a Board member of IDA Ireland from 1996 to 2006. 
She is also currently a Non Executive Director FBD Holdings plc, the Chair of  Investment Committee of Novus Modus, ESB’s cleantech investment fund, and a  Director of Chamber Choir Ireland.

Orlaith McBride


Orlaith McBride is the Director of the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon. Prior to this appointment, she worked in the arts across a broad range of arts organisations including Local Authorities, arts-in-education, youth arts and theatre. She worked for many years in South Dublin County Council developing and co-ordinating arts projects and programmes before becoming Arts Officer at the National Youth Council of Ireland where she developed the first National Strategy for Young People and the Arts. She was Director of NAYD, the development organisation for youth theatre in Ireland from 2003-2011. She produced the National Youth Theatre at the Peacock Theatre from 2007-2011. She served as a member of the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon from 2003-2011, was a member of Dublin City Council Strategic Policy Committee (Arts and Youth) from 2004-2009 and was a member of the Special Committee on the Arts and Education. She was President of the National Youth Council of Ireland, 2010-2011 and is a member of the Governing Authority of Dublin City University. 

Aibhlín McCrann

Aibhlín McCrann was reappointed Deputy Chairman of the Arts Council in October 2011 and has been an Arts Council member since February 2006. A graduate of University College Dublin, she is a director of Communiqué International, one of Ireland’s leading communications consultancies where she specialises in facilitation and stakeholder engagement with a wide range of organisations in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. She has a long standing association with both classical and traditional music as a solo harper and ensemble musician, with extensive radio, television and recording experience. As a former director of the internationally acclaimed Festival for Irish harp, An Chúirt Chruitireachta, and secretary of Cairde na Cruite (Friends of the Harp) for more than twenty years, she has successfully worked to integrate and promote the Irish harp in mainstream Irish traditional music. A fluent Irish speaker, she has written, performed, and lectured extensively on the Irish harp in Ireland, Europe and the US. She served on the board of the Irish Traditional Music Archive 2002-2005.

Michael McLoone

Michael McLoone is Chairman of the Prison Service Implementation Body, a former member of board of Enterprise Ireland, and Chairman of Donegal airport. He spent 44 years in the public service including 25 years with the North Western Health Board. He is a former Manager of Donegal County Council; former CEO of Beaumont Hospital; former board member of the Health Service Executive; former Chairman of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service. He began his career in health administration as Personnel Officer at Midland Health Board and Programme Manager at NW Health Board.

Sir Brian McMaster

Sir Brian was born in Hitchin in Hertfordshire. He read law at the University of Bristol and Comparative Law at the University of Strasbourg. In 1968 Sir Brian joined EMI Records as a member of their International Classical Division. In 1973 he went to English National Opera as Controller of Opera Planning and three years later joined Welsh National Opera as Managing Director, where he remained until 1991. During the period 1984-89 he was also Artistic Director of Vancouver Opera. Sir Brian was Director of the Edinburgh International Festival from 1991 to 2006. He is a Governor of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. In July 2007, the Secretary of State for Culture in the UK, asked Sir Brian to undertake a review to report on:

  • how artistic excellence can encourage wider and deeper engagement with the arts by audiences
  • how to establish a light touch and non-bureaucratic method to judge the quality of the arts in the future.

The McMaster Review resulted in the report Supporting Excellence in the Arts - from Measurement to Judgment, which was published in January 2008.

Shane Molloy

Shane Molloy is currently Chair of the Children's Medical and Research Foundation and a member of the Council of the National Children's Research Centre, Our Lady's Children’s Hospital, Crumlin. He is also on the board of TASC.He was formerly Chair of the European Movement Ireland and a member of its North-South committee. He has served on the boards of Community Dialogue, Belfast and the Alzheimer Society of Ireland. Previously, he was chair of Unilever Ireland and Senior Vice President, Unilever Home and Personal Care, Europe. Other involvements included membership of the National Executive of IBEC (Irish Business and Employers Confederation) and of the Joint North-South IBEC-CBI Council. 

John O'Kane

John O'Kane is one of two Arts Directors at the Arts Council, with responsibility for the performing artforms (music, opera, theatre, dance, circus, street arts and spectacle), multi disciplinary venues and festivals, and Local Authority Arts Services. Prior to joining the Arts Council in 2003, he was CEO of Music Network which is itself in receipt of Arts Council funding. He previously worked as a professional orchestral musician, including positions in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Ulster Orchestra. In addition, he founded and ran the contemporary music ensemble Sequenza.

Terence O'Rourke (Independent Chair)

Terence O'Rourke was appointed Chairman of Enterprise Ireland in August 2013 and was previously Managing Partner of KPMG Ireland until his retirement from the firm in April 2013.  He is also a director of Hibernia REIT plc, and joined the board of the Irish Times Limited in May 2013. Terence joined KPMG Ireland in 1975, became an audit partner in 1988 and was elected Managing Partner in 2006.  He was also a member of KPMG’s Global Board, Global Executive Team and EMA Board, from 2007 to 2013. Terence is a Fellow, and was President in 2004/05, of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland.  He is currently Chairman of Enactus Ireland, a member of the Council of the Irish Management Institute, the Governing Authority of Dublin City University, the boards of the Dublin Theatre Festival, the Institute of  International & European Affairs, the Chartered Accountants Regulatory Board and the WXN Ireland Advisory Board. Terence graduated from University College Dublin with a BA in Economics and History.  

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.

Recent publications
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10 April 2014: Arts Council Prompt Payments Report January-March 2014 (PDF, 0.46 MB)
07 April 2014: Annual report/An tuarascáil bhliantúil 2012 (PDF, 1.97 MB)