Arts Council takes steady approach to 2015 funding

Abbey Theatre allocated €6.2 million, a decrease of €300,000 on last year

The Arts Council funding allocations for 2015 have stability as their main focus.

In this year’s allocations, just announced, most organisations have received similar amounts to 2014 from the council, which is the Government agency for funding and promoting the arts in Ireland.

When the budget was announced last October the Arts Council was relieved that for the first time in six years it did not suffer a cut to its funding. It has adopted a similar approach when allocating the €56.7 million at its disposal.

In a statement the council said it was “mindful in its allocations to help position the arts to benefit from, and play a full part in, the national recovery”.

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The Abbey Theatre got €6.2 million, a decrease of €300,000 on last year, which is part of a three-year funding agreement. The National Theatre recorded a profit of €718,130 for 2013 and is expected to make a profit for 2014.

Nearly all festivals saw their offers held at the same level for 2015. Galway Arts Festival has been given €490,000; Kilkenny Arts Festival has been offered €390,000; and the Tiger Dublin Fringe has got €340,000. Dublin Theatre Festival has bucked the trend, with a bump from €766,000 in 2014 to €810,000 in 2015. This will be the 56th year of the festival. Wexford Festival Opera also saw its allocation rise by €20,000 to €1.42 million for 2015.

Most of the major companies and organisations will be satisfied with their funding offers. Druid Theatre maintained its allocation of €762,000. Project Arts Centre in Dublin retained €649,000 and Macnas saw a cut from €228,000 in 2014 to €207,766 this year. Opera Theatre Company saw an increase from €640,000 to €680,000 for 2015.

Any controversies in the past year seem to have had little impact on the council's decisions. Music Network came under fire in November 2013, over a perceived bias in how it awarded grants under its recording scheme, and it subsequently altered its decision-making process. Its allocation has remained steady at €515,000.

Rough Magic has taken a cut, down to €480,000 from €511,000 previously. Last year, it received €230,000 from Sky Arts for a lavish opera production of The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny which failed to win over critics.

The Gate raised eyebrows in February last year when it was revealed that artistic director Michael Colgan was paid more than €220,000 in 2013. This year, the Gate's funding offer is €860,000, down from €908,000 in 2014. The theatre made a profit of €34,464 in 2012 and abridged accounts show a surplus for 2013.

This year the Arts Council released its funding decisions via an interactive map on its website. Most of the companies and organisations who received funding are based in the larger urban areas, with more than 80 in Dublin city and county, 15 in Galway city, 17 in Cork city and nine in Limerick. Most smaller arts organisations access funding through their local county council or local government offices.

Just six organisations got funding in the Cavan/Monaghan area, which is the constituency of the Minister for the Arts Heather Humphreys. Funding for national cultural institutions (NCIs), such as the National Museum and the National Library, is allocated separately and directly by the Department of Arts. In December, Ms Humphreys announced the provision of an extra €2 million in funding for NCIs.

The department’s overall budget allocation for 2015 is €274 million.