Madigan confirms Galway 2020 to get first major tranche of State funding

Minister announces Markievicz bursaries for women artists and writers, to mark women’s suffrage, and hopes Galway 2020 appoints new artistic director soon

Josepha Madigan:  setting up a performance delivery agreement for its Galway2020 funding in the next few weeks. Photograph:  Nick Bradshaw

Josepha Madigan: setting up a performance delivery agreement for its Galway2020 funding in the next few weeks. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

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Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture is to get €6 million, its first major tranche of departmental funding, following this week’s budget, Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan confirmed on Thursday.

The money is part of €15 million pledged by the department to the project, which has recently been mired on controversy. Following the loss of its creative director and chief executive, and the cancellation of Druid Theatre key project, the minister said she hopes Galway 2020 will be appoint an artistic director in the near future, and referred to a meeting about the issue in Galway on Thursday. Galway City Council senior official Patricia Philbin was seconded as chief executive this month.

The minister said the department has thus far only funded €250,000 to Galway 2020. It is setting up a performance delivery agreement for its Galway2020 funding in the next few weeks, she said. “It’s important the spend we give to Galway 2020 is accounted for, that we get value for money. It’s important because we also have the input of the EU and the spotlight is going to be on Ireland, so we want to make sure they deliver on that.” She was pleased the Arts Council is get involved with arts organisations on the ground in Galway. She felt it would be an impactful year and that things were moving forward after difficulties.

The Minister was speaking at Government Buildings about her department’s 2019 budget, which has an extra €36 million for culture, language and heritage. The €339 million budget – an increase of 12 per cent on 2018 – involves €21 million in capital investment (up 39 per cent) and €15 million in current spending (up 6 per cent).

Among the details, the Minister announced new Markievicz bursaries for women artists and writers, to mark women’s suffrage. She sees it as an ongoing bursary; the funding is not confirmed yet, she said, but it will be part of an additional €250,000 for centenary commemorations.

Arts and culture spending is to increase by 14 per cent to almost €190 million (€148.2 million on current expenditure and €41.7 million in capital). Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland (formerly the Irish Film Board) will get an extra €2 million (totalling over €20 million) to roll out its audiovisual action plan. The Minister noted the “overwhelmingly positive reaction” of culture and heritage communities (including the Arts Council, which had a €6.8 million increase to €75 million) to the investment increases.

Creative Ireland will get €1.2 million extra for cultural teams in local authorities and a creative youth programme, while new cultural ambassadors around the globe will be funded by Culture Ireland’s €4.1 million increase.

There are also plans for an interpretative portal for the national monuments discovered in Co Meath this summer.

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