The National Campaign for the Arts (NCFA) is a volunteer-led, grassroots movement that makes the case for the arts in Ireland. It seeks to ensure that the arts are on local and national government agendas and are recognised as a vital part of contemporary Irish life . This submission is made on behalf of arts and cultural organisations and individuals that form part of NCFA.
In order to ensure our mandate and advocacy focus is consistently refreshed and renewed, NCFA maintains regular communication with its membership and the public via a range of means; including social and traditional media, newsletters, and events. Earlier this year, NCFA undertook an insight survey, encompassing a sample of 1,000 respondents across our membership and the general public.
The insight gleaned through this process has indicated strong support for the organisation’s priorities as well as some unique feedback regarding new policy initiatives, such as Creative Ireland. The recommendations included in this pre-budget submission are underpinned by the feedback and prioritisation highlighted in our recent survey,
Budget Recommendations 2018:
According to Eurostat, Ireland currently spends 0.2% of GDP on cultural services, exactly half the EU-28 average – placing Ireland among the bottom three EU countries for cultural spend.
NCFA welcomes the commitment made by An Taoiseach to double investment in the arts over five years. The realisation of this commitment, alongside the re-prioritisation of arts and culture in other policy measures, such as the creation of a Department of Culture, indicate a much-needed move to place arts and culture at the centre of government thinking.
The following recommendations serve to further embed this critical shift in Government policy, and align with the three top priorities highlighted by our recent survey – which centre on funding and investment, working and living conditions for artists, and arts policy.
Funding & Investment in the Arts
I. Funding Commitment: NCFA calls on the Government to implement its commitment to double funding and investment in the arts over five years, bringing Ireland in line with the EU-28 average. The Government should provide a clear plan as to how this will be delivered over the five year period, and prioritise an uplift in core investment in the funding agencies and cultural institutions.
II. Multi-Annual Budgeting: Given the new strategic funding approach recently introduced by the Arts Council, NCFA suggests the implementation of multi-annual current budgeting by Government to further facilitate agencies in providing multi-annual funding to arts organisations.
III. Arts Council Funding: To continue the uplift of current funding towards its pre-recession figure, NCFA calls for an increase in 2018 of at least 20% to Arts Council core funding, excluding one-off commemorative events or Creative Ireland initiatives.
IV. Local Authority Spending on the Arts: As Local Authority funding on the arts is currently discretionary, NCFA recommends that this position should be changed to ensure funding is ring-fenced for consistency and artist access.
Artist’s Social Welfare
NCFA welcomes the pilot social welfare initiative announced earlier this year. However, the reach of the pilot is limited insofar as it only extends to self-employed artists in two specific communities (literature and visual art), leaving the majority of working artists without access.
As such, NCFA recommends that, following the pilot, social welfare access is expanded to include other artforms, and to cover artists who work as employees, as well as self-employed artists. Systems such as that of the Netherlands should be used as a model for the sustainability of those working in the sector ie: practicing artists are guaranteed a basic income for up to 4 years within a 10 year period.(1)
I. Adherence to ‘Arm’s Length’ Principle: An integral element of the artistic process and good governance in the cultural sector necessary for freedom in creation and curation of work. Therefore, NCFA re-states the need for this principle to be upheld and assured, alongside the requirement for transparency in all funding allocation including Creative Ireland spend.
II. Tax Breaks for Philanthropic Support: NCFA recognises the importance of philanthropic and corporate support for the Arts, as well as the tax breaks necessary to encourage the growth and potential of this approach. This should seen as part of a healthy funding ecology, in addition to, rather than replacing, core public investment.
III. Local Enterprise Office (LEO) and LEADER Funding Support for Arts and Culture: A key driver of regional and local social and economic development, LEOs and LEADER funds can offer a unique resource to arts initiatives and artists. Our research reveals that, in many local authority areas, these funds, and information on how to access them, are not readily available to the arts sector. NCFA calls on the Government to ensure that new and existing funding schemes offered by local LEADER companies and LEOs should should be easily and transparently accessible to arts organisations. LEADER companies and LEOs should be given guidance to ensure that schemes they manage are available to the arts.
IV. Research and Development Fund for European Projects: NCFA calls on the Government to establish a dedicated fund to enable prospective applicants for Creative Europe funding to effectively devise and prepare large-scale projects to the level of excellence required for success. There is currently a small amount of funding available from Creative Europe Desk Ireland (http://www.creativeeuropeireland.eu) to foster networks, but it is does not enable arts organisations to buy the time required to research and develop large multi-stakeholder projects. Given the pressure on an already stretched sector to generate applications for national funds, potential applicants do not have the resources to build proposals, and arguably, this is why Ireland has underperformed in Creative Europe funding rounds to date.(2)
Submitted on behalf of NCFA’s membership by its Steering Group:
Jo Mangan (NCFA Chair; Director, Carlow Arts Festival), Eoghan Carrick (theatre director), Tom Creed (theatre and opera director), Olwen Dawe (Director, Irish Business Intelligence, policy analyst and consultant), Angela Dorgan (CEO, First Music Contact), Eugene Downes (Director, Kilkenny Arts Festival), Ed Guiney (Company Director, Element Pictures), Fiona Kearney (Director, Lewis Glucksman Gallery), Cian O’Brien (Artistic DIrector, Project Arts Centre)