Artists and arts organisations are being supported throughout the country in 2021 and their work will lead and inspire Irish society as we recover from the pandemic, the Arts Council said today.
With its exchequer grant increased to €130 million, the government agency for funding and developing the arts said that while the sector was suffering disproportionately in the health crisis, hundreds of artists and practitioners were planning and already making great art for the public to experience in the months ahead.
Announcing its key Strategic Funding round, the Council said it would invest €46.1 million in 105 key arts organisations across the country, among them Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, the Irish Chamber Orchestra in Limerick, Macnas in Galway, Cork Midsummer Festival, Waterford’s Spraoi and Teaċ Daṁsa in Kerry.
A further €7.8 million will fund 43 arts centres in every region of the country, from An Grianán in Donegal and Garage Theatre in Monaghan to Dunamaise Arts Centre in Laois, Glór in Clare, and the West Cork Arts Centre in Skibbereen.
The Council said that in addition in the weeks ahead, it would award around €10.7 million to arts organisations through its Arts Grant Funding programme; €2 million in smaller festivals in almost every county from its Festivals Investment Scheme; and a range of other supports for arts organisations struggling to survive the Covid-19 pandemic. For individual artists there will be some €10.5 million in bursaries; €5.6 million through a new Agility Award; as well increased funding for commissions and projects.
Arts Council Director Maureen Kennelly said: “Increased public investment is enabling us to support ambitious plans throughout the country and to ensure that the core infrastructure of the arts landscape survives the most challenging period ever faced. Ireland’s key organisations are demonstrating impressive levels of imagination and adaptability in their planning and we are confident that these funding decisions will support them to build back better and to reach the widest possible audience.”
The Council said it remained committed to prioritising the two policies it highlighted in 2020. These are Paying the Artist, designed to ensure fair remuneration for artists, and Equality, Human Rights and Diversity, which aims to make the arts sector fairer and more reflective of all of Irish society.
“Both of these important policies have been integrated with our funding programmes, and everyone receiving investment from the Arts Council must agree to play their part to embed these policies in their activity’, said Maureen Kennelly.
Arts Council Chair Prof. Kevin Rafter said: “Our goal in this extremely challenging year is not just for the arts to survive the pandemic but for the creativity and work of our artists and arts organisations to be at the heart of the revival and the renewal of our society. We believe the new level of annual funding for the Arts Council from the Government of €130 million puts us in a position to do that.”
The Arts Council confirmed that its highly successful ‘Creative Schools’ programme would continue to run in 2021-22, with the number of schools participating increased to more than 150 and funding of €3 million.
The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, welcomed the announcement, saying that the Arts Council's €130 million investment in 2021 will have a hugely positive impact and the funding is key to helping the arts survive and thrive in 2021.
“The pandemic has shown us just how important the arts are to all our lives. The unprecedented funding this year provided to the Council -- which I secured in Budget 2021 -- will help sustain artists and organisations severely impacted by the pandemic,” Minister Martin said. “The funds will not only go to those arts organisations and individual artists, but small festivals, creative schools and to a variety of applicants across the country.”
In their applications for Arts Centres and Strategic Funding, organisations said they would together sustain more than 35,000 jobs, and forecast the creation of 250,000 events or art objects with 24 million ‘engagements’ – when a member of the public experiences the work.
The Arts Council said the Strategic Funding grants would allow key organisations to stay afloat during the remaining months of the pandemic, adapt to the changing landscape, and renew their work for the future.
With continuing uncertainty around when audiences would be able to return to performances and exhibitions in person, flexibility and agility in pivoting to digital alternatives emerged as a strong theme in the programmes being proposed by the country’s key arts organisations.
Among the 148 organisations receiving Arts Centre or Strategic Funding are:
Abbey Theatre, €7.5 million
Druid, €1.04 million
Irish Chamber Orchestra, €1.2 million
Wexford Festival Opera, €1.6 million
Na Píobarí Uilleann €498,000
Cork Midsummer Festival, €350,000
The Stinging Fly, €152,000
Project Arts Centre, €855,000
Arts organisations have welcomed the funding.:
T.V. Honan, Director of Waterford Spraoi:
“Last year was a school of hard knocks for arts producers. Thanks to 2021 Arts Council Strategic Funding Spraoi will be applying lessons learned to ensure our audiences are offered the live arts they deserve and need in COVID times. Spraoi’s job is to build bridges between artists and audiences. Arts Council Strategic Funding is investment in story telling infrastructure. Spraoi is unapologetically populist. With Arts Council investment we make art for and with people that’s capable of inspiring hearts and minds regardless of a person’s background.”
Lorraine Maye, Director, Cork Midsummer Festival:
Strategic Funding is of vital importance to Cork Midsummer Festival. It has enabled communities in Cork to tell their stories through our socially engaged programme of activities; created a space for incredibly talented emerging Irish artists across all art forms to develop and platform their work; and unlocked partnerships between the festival and other organisations locally, nationally and internationally. Our 2021 funding will ensure that we can continue to develop projects directly with communities, collaborate with Irish and international artists and organisations to develop exciting new work and present a blended programme of live and digital events to audiences at home and abroad in June.
Gay McKeon, CEO, Na Píobairí Uilleann:
“The challenges of the past twelve months have led us to develop new ways to work with artists and reach audiences. The increased funding for 2021 will provide us with the opportunity to expand services and to provide opportunities for the public to meaningfully engage with and enjoy uilleann piping and the traditional arts.”
Declan Meade, Stinging Fly:
“Strategic Funding from the Arts Council is absolutely crucial for us and the increased funding offer for this year comes at a key moment in our development as an organisation. We're looking forward to publishing our new strategy document next month and to getting on with our mission to seek out, nurture, publish and promote the very best new writers and new writing.”
Gerard Keenan, CEO, Irish Chamber Orchestra:
“The Irish Chamber Orchestra gratefully acknowledges the continued support of The Arts Council of Ireland – a substantial increase this year reflects a solid endorsement of the ICO’s continued ability to pivot and flourish even in these difficult times. From Covid to creativity, the Irish Chamber Orchestra has successfully risked, re-invented, rehearsed, re-grouped and released recordings in what will go down as one of the most difficult years in history. Looking ahead, we reinforce our mission to entertain, to educate, to sustain and grow our audience which are the very heartbeat of our Orchestra”.
Noeline Kavanagh, Artistic Director of Macnas:
“The Arts Council provides the core funding to support Macnas’ main objective which is to advance education and access to the arts. We create work year on year that truly engages with audiences of all ages and at a level and scale that would simply not be possible without this Strategic Funding. The Arts Council allows us to invest in something at the very heart of the company, our comprehensive education and training programme to nurture and develop the next generation of artists, magic makers and engineers of imagination.”
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