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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: December 7, 2011 @ 9:54 pm

    Diminished, but not decimated – Budget 2012

    Laurence Mackin

    The Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan was beating a familiar drum last night, when he announced the department’s allocations under the 2012 Budget. Job creation and sustainability are the key tenets of his spending plans, with fully 49 per cent of the department’s resources to be allocated to the “Arts, Culture and Film programme area”.

    Gross funding for the department will be €266.997m in 2012 with an allocation for current expenditure of €223.997m and a capital allocation of €43m. €8.558m is also earmarked for the National Gallery.

    The Irish Film Board will be quietly delighted. Although capital allocation has been scaled back, the IFB will see its funding rise by 4 per cent to €2.54m over the 2011 figure. “It is important to remember that for every €1 of IFB investment close to €10 is generated in the economy” the Minister pointed out.

    The Arts Council’s slice of the pie is €63.1m, “to maintain its support to over 50 venues, approximately 200 festivals and 400 arts organisations”. This is down from €65.16 in 2011, meaning a cut of 3.2 per cent. While cuts are never welcome, the council will be thankful that the knife didn’t run deeper, and 3 per cent seems perfectly manageable in the current circumstances.

    So far, figures for Culture Ireland (which promotes Irish culture abroad) and the National Cultural Institutions are not available but are due tomorrow (Thursday).

    The National Parks and Wildlife Service also saw a modest increase of 3 per cent to €14.397m, to allow for a “a redress package for those affected by the cessation of turf cutting on 53 raised bogs”, and a programme of capital works that will take place next year.

    An Foras Teanga (comprising Foras na Gaeilge and the Ulster-Scots Agency) and Waterways Ireland, Two North-South implementation bodies that develop cross-Border co-operation, will receive €42.718m, subject to the approval of the North/South Ministerial Council.

    A few key facts were acknowledged in the minister’s statement. The arts employs 50,000 people in this country, almost as many as the ICT sector, and that figure for return on investment in the IFB is crucial. Other sectors would do well to demonstrate their value in a similar fashion. Even in the arts, money talks. Few in the sector would argue that these figures are a bad result, and intensive lobbying by organisations such as the National Campaign for the Arts seems to have played a strong role in ensuring these diminished, rather than decimated, funding levels.


    Update: A few more detailed figures have emerged on the department’s website. Total administration costs are to be cut by 6 per cent. The National Archives is facing a 5 per cent cut; Imma, the Chester Beatty, NCH and the Crawford are down 4 per cent; Culture Ireland is taking an 11 per cent hit, and its Imagine Ireland programme is no more (this is not a development, the programme has simply run its course); the National Musuem of Ireland is down 5 percent, with the National Library taking a 7 per cent hit. The average cut for these institutions is 6 per cent.

    Most of these cuts seem manageable enough, so where are the savings being made? The answer lies in the Capital budgets, where the average drop in funding is 32 per cent. The Film Board gets off relatively lightly at 18 per cent, the art museums and the NCH will have to contend with a 39 per cent drop. The National Museums and Library are facing a halving of their capital budgets, and the amount earmarked for Cultural Infrastructure and Development is also down 50 per cent. The biggest cut is in the Arts Council’s Capital budget: it is down 83 per cent.

    • Crewed says:

      “that figure for return on investment in the IFB is crucial” …but is it accurate? Where is it independently vouched for? Does it overlap with investment form other sources like RTE, BAI or the tax break?
      Wouldn’t it mean that this year €183 million production spend, in Ireland, is solely attributible to the Board’s investment? Won’t that be severely impacted next year by the big cut in the capital budget?

    • Laurence Mackin says:

      Crewed_ All good points. A little more information from the Minister’s speech on that €1 statement:
      “On average 70% of each [film] production budget is spent on labour. In the past six years from 2006 to 2011 the IFB-induced spend was as follows: a total budget of the productions was €501 million; IFB investment was €58 million; and Irish spend on the productions was €252 million. Therefore, for every €1 investment by the IFB in production there is a nearly a tenfold return on that investment. In looking specifically at the value of the industry in 2010, the recent IBEC audiovisual review of film and television production in Ireland gave a total production value of €388 million for that year, a 57% increase on 2009.”

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