The Arts Council today hosted a reception at Leinster House to mark the tenure of Ceann Chomhairle, John O Donoghue, as Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism. The reception was attended by politicians from across the political parties, members of the Arts Council and Aosdana and artists from around the country.
Ms Olive Braiden, Chair of the Arts Council, congratulated Mr O Donoghue, T.D. on becoming Ceann Comhairle. She said that during his time as Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the arts sector had enjoyed unprecedented growth and development.
"John achieved many things while he was Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism and did much to develop the cultural and artistic landscape of the state. The redevelopment of the Abbey Theatre was agreed during his tenure, as was the refurbishment of the Theatre Royal in Wexford and the Gaiety Theatre, in Dublin. Furthermore, the national cultural institutions also benefited during his tenure, with the National Library, the National Museum, the Chester Beatty Library, the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the National Concert Hall all receiving increased funding and initiating or engaging in significant development programmes over this period. Film also had a rewarding experience during his term and he robustly protected the artists’ exemption at a time when it vulnerable to negative reform."
"Our funding at the Arts Council grew by 67 per cent over his term and this without question helped us to meet some of the demands that existed in the arts community. Both John and the Government understood that funding of the arts through the Arts Council was, and continues to be, an investment in the economy and in Irish society, more generally."
"It is an investment that does and will continue to pay huge dividends," Ms Braiden told those gathered in Leinster House. "As we know, the creative economy continues to grow at levels much higher than the rest of the economy, with multiple ensuing benefits, including stimulating and, in certain sectors, driving innovation among Irish people. This innovation is vital to our future success in the uncertain economic climate that we now negotiate."
"Ireland has the potential to be one of the world’s great cultural destinations, creating many significant economic benefits that derive from cultural tourism. The admirable free admissions policy evident in so many of our galleries and other cultural institutions is, in the main, a unique experience for most tourists. "
Speaking on the eve of the Budget, the Arts Council Chair said: "We need good people to populate the arts sector to further substantiate Ireland’s cultural reputation. We need to animate the network of arts venues and festivals that are integral to the national arts infrastructure. We need to support and value our artists who are at the forefront of creative and innovative practice. This investment in people is why current spending is so important to the arts sector. It is people, not buildings, that yield a return. It is investment in human capital that will increase access and participation in the arts. The difference in the arts between rhetoric and reality is the investment in people and their projects. This is the way in which the peerless investment in arts infrastructure, made over the past fifteen years, can be fully realised."