The Arts Council is asking the Government for an additional €20 million in 2008, to bring its funding to €100 million for the first time and enable the Arts Council to focus on the development of a number of key areas identified in consultation with arts organisations around the country. Olive Braiden, Chair of the Arts Council, says that the additional €20 million would be an excellent investment and would stabilise the arts sector in Ireland for the first time ever.
"We need the additional funding to provide more opportunities for our increasing and ever more diverse population, and most especially for our young people to participate in the arts. We need to create more opportunities for the new arts centres and venues dotted around the country to present a wide variety of work, and to extend the Council’s very successful touring programme by allowing regional arts organisations bring shows and exhibitions to Dublin, an initiative which has been hampered until now by high costs", says Olive Braiden.
"The extra €20 million funding would make it possible, for example, for almost every schoolchild to meet and work with an artist, musician or playwright. Children love the arts, particularly music, and every child would benefit from getting sustained opportunites in and out of school to enjoy live music from an early age. It would also enable them to work with artists under existing, but seriously under-resourced schemes such as Artists-in-Residence or Writers-in-School and in the whole area of youth arts."
Stressing the critical contribution of the arts to the economy, Mary Cloake, Director, Arts Council says that the value of the Arts should not be underestimated.
"Our new knowledge economy needs the arts more than ever. Our management of knowledge, along with our creativity and ability to adapt, will help secure our future success. All of these much needed and increasingly highly-rated traits are connected with the kinds of experiences promoted by involvement in the arts. It makes financial sense for the Government to continue to invest in the arts. The payback will be immediate and enormous. An additional €20 million funding would release the creative potential of so many arts organisations who have already submitted their grant proposals to the Arts Council, allowing them to consolidate their activities and plan for the future in a structured way. The benefits would be enormous for the economy and for Irish society generally."
Olive Braiden welcomed the publication of a series of pamphlets by the Arts Council to highlight the value of the arts and the positive impact it has on people’s lives. " We are delighted that distinguished commentators such as Ian Kilroy, Arts Editor of the Irish Examiner, John Burns News Editor of the Sunday Times, and John Waters, Irish Times journalist and commentator, are among those engaging in this discussion and we hope that it will act as a stimulus to a much broader public debate" she said.