€200m film boost among key elements of Project Ireland 2040

Funding for Abbey Theatre, museums, National Archives and National Library

Investment of €200 million in screen production over the next 10 years will aim to build on Ireland's growing reputation as a centre for international productions. This follows the high-profile backdrop of  Skellig Michael in Star Wars films, and the sc-fi series Nightflyers, now in production in Limerick.

The screen production funding comes along with a name change for the Irish Film Board, to Screen Ireland. This reflects a wider remit of film, animation, TV drama and other screen content, and was unveiled by Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan at yesterday's announcement of €1.188 billion capital investment in culture, language and heritage over 2018- 2027. The plan will see significant funding going to develop the National Museum, the Abbey theatre, and a host of cultural projects.

While the €200 million for media production and the audio-visual industry is classed as capital investment, it will fund film production, TV drama and animation rather than physical infrastructure. IFB/Screen Ireland will offer co-production funding, development funding for Irish productions and especially for new Irish TV drama, and will also back regional production and training.

The significant funding increase – film capital funding is €14.2million this year – would, said IFB chairwoman Annie Doona, help to establish reland as a "global centre of excellence for media production".


Chief executive James Hickey said IFB's ambition for creative screen industry was "a doubling of growth over the next five-10 years, in line with the rapid development of drama screen content production internationally," as Ireland offers world-class locations and infrastructure, a skilled workforce and a competitive tax credit.

The audio-visual sector supports 17,000 full-time jobs.

Hundreds of people in the cultural, heritage, language and diplomatic sectors attended yesterday's forum at the National Gallery's Shaw Room, where Taoiseach Leo Varadkar spoke about the role of culture in how the rest of the world sees us for the first time, and how it enhances our human experience. "Culture is an important component of soft power and political power," he said.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe spoke about how art can articulate what we value as a society, and how our art and culture and heritage are "a differenct sort of capital". He said as well as a statement of about funding, this was also about the future, and about hope.

After the launch, Ms Madigan said the level of investment was “completely unprecedented. It’s never been done before”, and that it was an indication of the importance the Taoiseach places on culture and heritage.

The total capital investment for 2018-2027 is €1.188 billion, breaking down into culture – €725m, heritage €285m, and Irish language/the islands €178m. As part of that cultural funding the national cultural institutions receive €460 million, including €85millon for the National Museum, the largest single capital investment in a cultural institution. It will go towards redevelopment of the Natural History Museum and the Museum of Archaeology on Kildare Street. These begin a 15-year plan that the National Museum will announce soon.

Its chairwoman Catherine Heaney said "for the first time in history, investment in our cultural institutions is being taken as seriously as investment in schools, roads and other national infrastructure. There's a recognition here that cultural institutions have a key role across education, research, sustainability, planning and in our national wellbeing."

The Abbey theatre will get €80m towards redeveloping it its present location, extending down to Eden Quay.

Project Ireland’s €15m for Galway as European City of Culture is not capital funding but will go towards its €45 million programme budget.

The €285m funding for heritage priorities includes €50m for improvements to National Parks, including Donegal’s Glenveagh National Park which plans to update infrastructure.

Caring for historic environment involves €85m to revitalise historic cores of cities, towns and villages, continue development of the Ulster Canal, and protect historic buildings such as the Valentia Island Cable Station.

The National Library will get €23m towards refurbishing the 1890s building and enhance facilities.

The National Archives plans a long needed environmentally controlled repository which will increase storage. IMMA plans development of its full 26 acre site at Kilmainham.

The Crawford Art Gallery in Cork will be refurbished and build a new block for education and conservation.

Deirdre Falvey

Deirdre Falvey

Deirdre Falvey is a features and arts writer at The Irish Times