Donegal’s vibrant artistic heritage and creative, collaborative approach marks the county out as resilient and filled with potential, the Director of the Arts Council has said.
Mary Cloake today welcomed a new report on County Donegal, and said it showed the arts could boost jobs, draw more tourists, restore our self-confidence and spearhead economic recovery.
The Cultural Compass report, the work of the Donegal County Development Board’s Cultural Forum, points to a rich and diverse arts landscape, created by some 429 cultural facilities, providers and practitioners. Those facilities attracted 480,000 visitors to the county in 2007 and 2008, the report says.
"Unique in its richness of artistic and cultural heritage, this county offers its citizens many opportunities to experience the very best that is happening, locally, nationally and internationally, in the contemporary arts," Ms Cloake said.
Cloake praised the Earagail festival - which is funded by the Arts Council -- as part of Donegal’s rich heritage, pointing to its ambitious and wide-ranging programme of exhibitions, music, theatre, film and arts for young people.
And she stressed: "The arts are not simply a leisure activity, or a diversion from the business of making a living. To put it at its simplest, the arts are a resource; one of national importance."
Intelligent investment in the arts paid enormous economic dividends, Ms Cloake said. These included inward investment by multinational corporations; employers that need a workforce with initiative and adaptability; and the extended visits by cultural tourists.
"These two areas alone contribute billions to the Irish economy. That’s before we even mention the 50,000 individuals directly employed in the arts throughout the country. Taking all that together, there could be no more important work than that of advancing the arts; no endeavour more urgent than that of creating the best possible environment in which they might flourish,"
And she paid tribute to the County Development Board, adding: "This report is the first step in creating that environment, right here in Donegal."