State-assisted artists to be required to work
Every artist and arts institution in receipt of public money will have to participate in a new initiative to encourage the arts in schools.
Artists who avail of tax exemptions, including most writers, musicians and painters living in Ireland, will be obliged to give at least two hours a year to schools in their local area.
The new obligations are outlined in a new public service education dividend scheme.
It is part of the Arts in Education Charter launched yesterday by Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn and Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan.
Under the charter, schools that promote the arts will receive the status of being an arts-rich school. The Arts Council will set the criteria for recognition, which will be similar to those used to reward green schools.
Cultural institutions such as the Abbey Theatre and the National Concert Hall will offer discounted tickets set at a maximum of €5 to students as part of the charter, which takes effect from today.
A Department of Education spokeswoman said it was “all systems go” and the implementation of the strategy would be rolled out on a phased basis.
Every pupil in the State will visit a national cultural institution at least once during their secondary school years, the charter states.
Second-level schools will develop policies in relation to the arts, provision will be made for arts facilities in new school buildings and schools will in turn allow the wider community to use the same arts facilities.
Mr Deenihan said that when he was a teacher at Tarbert comprehensive school, visits by Kerry writers John B Keane and Bryan McMahon left a “lasting impression on the students”.
He hoped the charter might see prominent musicians and writers visit schools in a similar fashion.
“It is not a big obligation. It is a small commitment, but when you take it collectively from all of the artists who have benefited in some way from the State it will make a major impression on young people at a very important age in their lives,” he said.
“It certainly will foster more creativity and encourage some of those young people themselves to pursue a particular type of art.”
Mr Deenihan said Druid Theatre in Galway and the St John’s Arts and Heritage Centre in Listowel were examples of arts organisations already involved in schools programmes.