Philanthropy is an underutilised source of funding for the arts, and the new Ireland should expect and encourage those who have prospered most to give back to national life, the Arts Council has said.
In its presentation of the annual review for 2007 to the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism Mr. Martin Cullen T.D., the Arts Council said it had been looking hard for extra ways to fund its ambitious plans to bring more high quality art to people in every part of Ireland.
"In Ireland we recognise that with that great personal wealth comes a responsibility to give, to display the generosity, wisdom and quiet patriotism that fosters those aspects of human endeavour that bestow life with meaning and possibility," said Olive Braiden, Chair of the Arts Council.
"Such generosity, if awakened and harnessed, in conjunction with the work of the Arts Council, would significantly enhance the flowering of the arts which has already begun," Ms. Braiden added.
The Arts Council promised to outline to the Minister by the end of June its plan for encouraging philanthropy, and asked for his assistance and engagement in developing such a culture.
The organisation’s annual review for 2007 highlighted the extraordinary acceleration in the rate of regional and local arts development. Arts venues, festivals and local authority arts programmes were the most visible manifestation of the growth in the arts, with 42 festivals being supported in August alone. In October and November last year, there were 40 different shows touring the island of Ireland. These brought six separate artistic disciplines to fresh audiences in every region, offering unprecedented access to performances, exhibitions and readings heretofore only available in the main centres.
Speaking about the review, Arts Council Director Mary Cloake said "The social and economic benefits of investment in the arts are illustrated in microcosm by these vibrant festivals, which draw on impressive voluntary energy, provide for the celebration of local communities, and contribute to their local economies through cultural tourism."
"Looking back on 2007 we can point to many such successes in the arts. We have also achieved much in the work of the Arts Council. During the year we introduced five new funding programmes, making the process of applying for grant assistance more tailored and user-friendly than ever before. We also saw a significant internal re-organisation, designed to free up expert and specialist staff to give direct support to the ongoing work of artists and arts organisations. We are well on the way to achieving the goals of our strategy, Partnership for the Arts. "Ms Cloake said.