The Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Martin Cullen T.D., this afternoon made his first visit to the Arts Council.
He was greeted by the Chair of the Arts Council, Olive Braiden, who welcomed him to the Council meeting.
In a briefing by Ms Braiden, Minister Cullen heard that the arts are collectively the single most popular pursuit in today's Ireland.
"The arts have moved to the core of Government policies and the Arts Council is committed to working with the Minister to enhance and further strengthen the arts communities and to highlight their significant contribution to our country," Ms Braiden said.
Other members of the Council offered Minister Cullen examples of the art funded by the independent body across the country. These included:
- New tours of top theatre productions:
. The Abbey Theatre is taking the Irish première of Conor McPherson's The Seafarer to Cork, Galway and Letterkenny.
. The Gate is bringing its award-winning production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot to 41 towns across Ireland.
. Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, produced by Rough Magic and starring Pauline McLynn which toured to seven venues from Tralee to Letterkenny.
- An explosion in the arts in some 130 summer festivals across Ireland, with enthusiastic support from the local and international visitors, such as:
. The unique Waterford Spraoi street festival, which attracts some 60,000 visitors and participants
. The Kilkenny Arts Festival which through its artistic ambitions attracts bigger and bigger audiences each year
. The Galway Arts festival, described by the New York Times as "one of the best performing arts festivals in Europe", with a direct economic impact of €20 million.
- Local and community arts, such as:
. The Arts Council's unique partnership with the 34 local authorities across the State led to the Artlinks initiative in Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow, creating a professional development resources for all artists in the South East
. Reaching out to the new Irish too, for example by backing the Calypso theatre company, which draws from a huge wealth of talent from different cultural, racial and socio-economic backgrounds.
Council members also stressed the central role of the arts in education, and discussed the Arts Council's shared goal of giving each child in the country the opportunity to participate in the arts.
Minister Cullen, accompanied by the Director of the Arts Council, Mary Cloake, went for a brief tour of the building and met staff.
The members of the Arts Council are:
Olive Braiden, Chair; Maurice Foley, Deputy Chair; Theo Dorgan; Noelle Campbell Sharp; Rosaleen Linehan; Orlaith McBride; Mary Nunan; Philip King; Alan Stanford; Aibhlín McCrann; John Crumlish; and Colm Tóibín.