Children’s access to art and culture


Sir, – Aideen Howard, in her recent opinion piece “Children have a right to access art and culture” (September 20th), makes a timely and pertinent argument in support of the direct investment in participation by children and young people in arts and cultural activities.

We know that children who get involved in creative activities are happier, suffer less anxiety and do better at school. We want to encourage our young people to be creative thinkers, to expand their minds and to ensure they have the chance to achieve their potential.

This won’t just help them to prepare for the future; it will also add to their sense of wellbeing.

Although only two years into its mission, the Creative Ireland Programme, through its ambitious Creative Youth Plan, has the potential to have a lasting and positive impact on this generation of young people. A total of €6 million in 2019/2020 will deliver initiatives such as the doubling of creative schools to 300, new networks of schools will collaborate in creative clusters, and hundreds of teachers and artists will have increased continuing professional development training in arts and creativity as a tool for learning.

Outside of school, thousands more children and young people have the opportunity to play a musical instrument, form a local band, develop their creative writing or join a youth theatre through regional roll-outs of initiatives, including Music Generation and Fighting Words.

However, this is a five-year plan, and in some respects a journey into the unknown. It will take time to get everything right. We are building on policies and programmes that are already in place and working well. But we are also enabling innovative ideas and initiatives such as the first Open Youth Orchestra of Ireland for disabled musicians which will have its debut concert in Athlone Institute of Technology next Sunday.

The passion and commitment of Ms Howard and her colleagues on the Expert Advisory Group of the Creative Ireland Programme is delivering a seismic shift in perception across Government around the value of creativity as vital to the wellbeing of our youngest citizens. This is where direct investment is leading to a real public policy change, in our classrooms, in our communities and across our public service. – Yours, etc,


Minister for Culture,

Heritage and the Gaeltacht,

Kildare Street,

Dublin 2.