‘Life served neat’ is a phrase used by Zadie Smith in a recent essay and it seems an apt way to describe what we have all been through since March. Life without the scaffolding of normal human interaction has been tough. We miss the energy that we get from human contact and that is especially absent from the world that we are lucky to inhabit. Throughout the last nine months, artists and those who work with them, have shown deep reservoirs of imagination and generosity and empathy. The arts has shown its relevance for society like never before.
In 2020, we received more than 6,500 applications which compares with 3,500 last year. Amongst these, we were delighted to be able to fund 632 artists and 216 organisations for the first time. This gives some indication of the volume of work and of the accentuated demand for resources. It has been an immense honour for us to work with you and to support you during these hardest of times.
All year, the team at the Arts Council attended carefully to the situation. I salute their unstinting dedication and their high levels of professionalism. I am grateful too to the Council Chair and members for their astute guidance and support.
We’ve all gained new insights from looking into each other’s kitchens, bedrooms and living rooms, and it’s helping us to think inside each other’s skins. This new kinship will help us all return to even better selves.
Of course, many challenges remain, but the opening up of opportunities in 2021 is a deeply energizing prospect and we are glad to be able to support you with increased funding. We thank sincerely our colleagues in the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media for their wonderful support all year.
We hope that you have a safe and well-deserved rest and we look forward to our continued work with you in 2021.
Director of the Arts Council, 18 December, 2020