Over the past weeks the Arts Council has made key funding decisions for 2013. These will be communicated in the coming days. The bare facts are that €55.2 million (of a total grant-in-aid of €59.9 million) will be invested directly in the arts throughout the country. On Budget Day the Arts Council was allocated an additional €800,000 on a once-off basis, exclusively for the European Union Presidency Cultural Programme. This money has already been allocated and does not form part of our grant-in-aid.
2013 is the fifth year in a row the Council's grant-in-aid has been reduced. For the first time since 2004 our funding is now less than €60 million. While the Council's grant-in-aid was reduced by 5.2 percent this year, this will translate as an average reduction of 7.8 percent across artsforms. This is due to pre-existing commitments to the Abbey Theatre, Aosdána, Touring and other priorities.
Nobody underestimates the difficulty being faced by artists and organisations. But if we are down financially we are not out artistically. I want to be frank about the facts and frank about the Arts Council’s determination despite our reductions in funding to continue to support artists and arts organisations to inspire and engage the public across Ireland.
Demand from arts organisations in the three main grants programmes alone was €38.7 million. The Arts Council struck a balance between sustaining the existing arts infrastructure nationally and ensuring new opportunities continue for emerging artists and arts organisations. Offers totalling €30.8 million are being made in these programmes.
Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of the Council of the European Union begins on 1 January. The Arts Council has co-ordinated over 90 contemporary arts events and projects across Ireland as part of Culture Connects, the programme marking Ireland's EU Presidency.
Our approach to the Presidency has been to invest in artistic relationships.
Through festivals, local partnership projects and special collaborative initiatives we hope to raise awareness of the imaginative work undertaken by Irish artists and arts organisations so as to better engage with fellow artists abroad and diversify artistic life at home.
2013 will also see some internal changes within the Arts Council as we re-structure to ensure that we can deliver more effectively on our core remit as an expert development agency. Along with establishing a new Strategic Development Department, there will be a number of personnel changes. We will be communicating these changes over the coming weeks.
2013 offers challenges and opportunities. If nobody underestimates the difficulties, neither should we underrate the opportunities. Every audience is an opportunity to engage. Every arts event carries the possibility to create a legacy and every individual is potentially open to artistic inspiration.