Government’s ‘Creative Ireland’ plan outlined

Taoiseach launches five-year programme to promote culture as part of everyday lives

Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the National Gallery of Ireland: “We can make Ireland the first country in the world to guarantee access for every child to tuition and participation in art, music, drama and coding.” Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the National Gallery of Ireland: “We can make Ireland the first country in the world to guarantee access for every child to tuition and participation in art, music, drama and coding.” Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

There was a broad welcome across the arts and culture sectors for the Government’s new five-year plan, Creative Ireland, which was launched by the Taoiseach in the newly refurbished Shaw Room at the National Gallery of Ireland on Thursday.

In front of an audience which included the heads of most of the State’s key cultural institutions, Mr Kenny outlined an ambitious vision for what he described as “placing culture at the centre of our lives, for the betterment of our people and for the strengthening of our society”.

The Taoiseach, along with Minister for Arts Heather Humphreys and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Pascal Donohoe, laid out the details of the cross-governmental initiative, which aims to build on the legacy of the Ireland 2016 centenary programme.

The Taoiseach himself will chair a new Government committee dedicated to achieving the objectives of the plan, while a dedicated programme office will be set up within the Department of Arts.

Commitments announced for the next 12 months include:

* a pilot scheme to assist self-employed artists who have applied for Jobseekers Allowance;

* a new annual cultural day, to be held nationwide on Easter Monday each year; and

* the appointment of a culture team by every local authority in the country.

Heritage infrastructure

Plans will be drawn up for an investment programme for Ireland’s cultural and heritage infrastructure and institutions, as well as for developing Ireland as a global hub for film, TV drama and animation. The first item on the agenda, however, is the drafting of a five-year “Creative Children” plan, which will “enable every child to access tuition in music, drama, art and coding”.

“Together we can do extraordinary things,” Mr Kenny said at the launch. “We can make Ireland the first country in the world to guarantee access for every child to tuition and participation in art, music, drama and coding. We can make every local authority a dynamic hub of cultural creativity.

“We can unlock the huge potential of our people in the creative industries. And we can make an important statement to ourselves and to the world about the interdependency of culture, identity and citizenship.”

Mr Donohoe said the Government recognised that high-quality infrastructure was critical for a vibrant arts and culture sector. Investment in culture underpinned social cohesion and supported strong and sustainable economic growth.

Culture and citizenship

Ms Humphreys said the initiative had been inspired by the “extraordinary public response” to the 1916 Centenary Programme. “This year thousands of cultural events were held around the country,” she said. “Bringing people together in shared reflections on identity, culture and citizenship that combined history, arts, heritage and language. We now want to build on the success of the commemorations and plan ambitiously for our arts and culture sectors for the years ahead.”

Ms Humphreys described the plan as “a very ambitious public policy initiative; possibly the most significant for the arts and cultural sectors in a generation”.

The plan was welcomed by the director of the National Library of Ireland, Dr Sandra Collins, who described it as “progressive and exciting”.

The National Campaign for the Arts, a nationwide, volunteer-led movement, said the plan had “the potential – if delivered – to realise a sea-change for the cultural sector but also for the wellbeing of Irish society as a whole” and welcomed the proposed social protection changes as a “a long overdue safety net for self-employed artists” .