This month, the Arts Council publishes its Strategic Statement, which outlines our strategic direction and our key goals and objectives as we move into 2014. Central to this will be a Strategic Review, examining all aspects of what we do and framing how we will work in the years to come.
The Strategic Review will address how we plan, partner, promote, and provide for the arts. Rooted in realism, harnessing the views of the arts sector and of partners and stakeholders, and informed by comparative experience at home and abroad, we are confident this review will yield long-term benefits for the arts.
We believe such a review is timely and necessary. The decade since the 2003 Arts Act consisted of two periods of starkly contrasting fortunes for the arts. First there were five years of remarkable expansion and development with unprecedented levels of investment. The following five years (2008-2013) saw the model so recently developed become increasingly stressed by the severe and sudden contraction in public investment.
The scale of that reduction and its effect on the entire arts ecology have now reached a point where we must take stock, focus on the future, and make whatever policy, structural or funding changes are necessary to achieve the best arts experiences we can for the people of Ireland.
The wider social, cultural and technological changes that have occurred in the past decade, some of which have particular relevance for the arts, will also inform our deliberations.
The review will be overseen by a steering group chaired independently by Terence O'Rourke, and will have Arts Council and external membership. It will begin its work in January 2014 and report to the Council in the summer. Its findings are therefore likely to shape Arts Council investment from 2015 onwards.
This is an Arts Council-initiated review. The full terms of reference will be available on our website in the weeks ahead, but the overall aim is to examine how the Arts Council currently addresses its statutory remit; examine how successfully or otherwise the Arts Council is supporting and developing the arts across all artforms and areas of arts practice; decide the most effective way to plan and provide for the arts in the medium and long-term; and prioritise and de-prioritise accordingly.
An important part of the Strategic Review will be dialogue with the arts sector and other interested parties. We will seek written submissions focused on a number of key questions, create a special area of our website to facilitate such contributions, and use other media to consult widely.
Underpinning the Review is a conviction about the value of the arts, about what the arts are and about what the arts do, augmented by a confidence that the arts are at the heart of community experience across the country as well as being Ireland's signature achievement globally.