The Arts Council, the Irish government agency for developing the arts, reports demand for 2008 in excess of €130 million, €60 million more than was available to the Council for grant-giving in 2007. Applications have been received for funding from every county in Ireland.
Across all our funding programmes, we have received more than 1700 different applications seeking in excess of €130 Million. Speaking at a press briefing to announce the statistics, Olive Braiden, Chair of the Arts Council said, "Across our three main funding strands for organisations, which include Regularly Funded Organisations, Annual Programming Grants and Annual Funding, we have received 384 applications seeking more than €84 million." These applications are from major festivals, venues, resource organisations and production companies across all the art forms.
The Arts Council have also received 301 applications from small festivals who have asked for nearly €3 million. 250 applications have been received for the Projects: Once Off Awards which need in excess of €10 million. In addition to this, the 34 local authorities around the country and Údaras na Gaeltachta have asked the Arts Council for over €5 million to support their arts activities in 2008. There have also been 740 applications totalling over €13 million received from individuals spread across Bursaries, Commissions and Projects: New Work Awards.
The Arts Council also has many existing commitments which it must fund in 2008 including Aosdána, Deis and The Travel and Mobility Awards reaching €2 Million. The Abbey Theatre will receive €10 million in 2008 as part of an exceptional three year arrangement which the Council offered in 2006. Following on from the success of the Touring Experiment the Arts Council envisage a demand of almost €5 million to be able to continue supporting touring in 2008.
Ms. Braiden added: "We acknowledge that there are many competing forces in the economy but we must remember that the arts have a unique value to society. In the Arts Council’s report The Public and the Arts (2006) it is stated that over 85% of people had attended at least one arts event in the previous 12 months, it also reveals exceptionally positive attitudes to the arts and to the idea of increased public expenditure on the arts, even when that aspiration was challenged in the context of other core public service needs. We expect the Government to increase our funding by €20 million to €100 million in accordance with Partnership for the Arts.
Mary Cloake, Director of the Arts Council said, "The level of demand from the sector continues to grow year on year. The growth in the number of high quality applications is indicative of the vibrancy in the arts. In 2006 we announced details of our Touring Experiment and in October and November 2007 there are 40 shows touring the country as part of the experiment. We will be funding more than 160 small festivals in 2008, these festivals are crucially important in providing arts programmes all over the country, pumping artistic energy and expertise into the local communities. To fulfill the potential of these types of organisations, we need an extra €20 million in funding next year."