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Ireland bottom of the European league in terms of public funding for the Arts

September 17 2015, at 12.38pm

The National Campaign for the Arts today (Wednesday 16 September 2015) launched its pre-Budget submission calling on the Ministers for Finance and Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to increase current direct investment in the arts for 2016, thereby beginning the process of repairing the widespread damage suffered by the sector in recent years. 
The NCFA called on the Government to match EU average GDP spending on the Arts. Public funding for the arts and culture in this country represents just 0.11% of GDP, putting Ireland at the bottom of the European league table, compared with an average of 0.6%.

NCFA Pre-Budget Submission

September 17 2015, at 11.54am

The National Campaign for the Arts


Pre- Budget Submission






  • Executive Summary
  • About the National Campaign for the Arts (NCFA)
  • Statement of intent
  • Headline Position
  • Overview
  • NCFA recommendations in relation to Budget 2016
  • Creative industries and the economy
  • Lottery funding
  • Local investment
  • Young people, education and learning
  • Digital infrastructure and broadcasting
  • ANNEX A: The current funding picture
  • ANNEX B: Contributors to this paper




Executive Summary

We call upon the Department of Finance to increase current direct investment in Arts and Culture thereby beginning the process of repairing the widespread damage suffered by the sector in recent years.

The NCFA calls on the Government to match EU average GDP spending on the Arts. Public funding for the Arts and Culture represents just 0.11% of GDP and puts Ireland at the bottom of the European league table compared to an average of 0.6%.

We also call for the implementation of the following measures:

Implement tax efficiencies to grow the creative industries

Separate Lottery funding from Department of Arts funding

Ensure local authorities publish an Arts Plan

Fill all vacant Local Authority Arts Officer posts

Reinvest in Local Authorities to ensure the Arts gets their share

Reclassify Local Authority Arts spending as non-discretionary

Actively fund creative industries and Arts activity at Local Enterprise Board and LEADER level

Implement the Arts in Education Charter

Extend Junior Cycle Review to include Dance, Drama and Music

Introduce Drama and Dance as a subject in Secondary Schools

Shift government investment policy from STEM to STEAM focus



About NCFA

This submission is made on behalf of Arts and cultural organisations and individuals that form part of the National Campaign for the Arts (NCFA), a national membership organisation which articulates, champions and strengthens the role of the Arts and Culture in society and its contribution to the national economy.

We present detailed evidence, examples and arguments to support each of the enclosed recommendations and would very much welcome the opportunity to discuss them further.


Statement of Intent

•   The Republic of Culture

Ireland’s independence leaders, whom we commemorate in 2016, were poets as well as patriots. Let’s recapture their spirit by putting the Arts and Culture back at the heart of our national conversation.

•   Rebuild Ireland

The Arts and Culture play an essential role in rebuilding a confident future for our country - socially, and economically. And we can do so much more with the appropriate level of investment.

•   Re-embrace

Irish people value the Arts. [1]71% of adults in Ireland agree that the Arts play “an important and valuable role in a modern society such as Ireland.” Surveys show the vast majority of Irish people engage with Arts and culture. Arts attendance in Ireland is 13% higher than in Great Britain, and 9% higher than in Northern Ireland. It is time our government matched this commitment by putting the Arts at the heart of education, public policy and economic thinking.

•   Really?

Ireland enjoys a legendary reputation around the world for artistic excellence. But government spending on Culture is far from excellent. Ireland is bottom of Europe in spending just [2]0.11% of GDP on culture compared to an average of 0.6%.


Headline Position

The investment outlined in this paper is essential to the delivery of the government’s vision as outlined by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in its draft policy Culture 2025. That policy’s stated aim is to:                                

[3]‘provide a strong, fully inclusive, cultural base in society and a recognition that culture creates tangible societal value, promotes wellbeing, and provides a positive direct and indirect economic impact.’


The NCFA continues to take part in the consultation process in relation to Culture 2025. We believe that Ireland’s investment in Culture and the Arts defines us as a nation and demonstrates what it is we value. Arts and Culture enrich every aspect of our lives.

A thriving Arts and Cultural sector has a direct impact on:

  • our understanding of our national cultural identity
  • the growth and productivity of the national economy
  • social mobility and aspiration; particularly for children, young people and families
  • the skills-base of Ireland’s workforce through lifelong learning, both within the formal education sector and outside it
  • participation opportunities and the acceleration of the growth of Ireland’s world-class creative industries and the wider economy
  • individuals and families by fostering positivity, empathy, self-expression and exploration, as well as improved health and wellbeing
  • regions and local communities; through encouraging cohesion, creating high quality public activities, stimulating local growth and the night-time economy and attracting direct business investment into areas outside Dublin
  • tourism, trade and export
  • diplomacy and Ireland’s world standing.



The Arts work at the heart of communities and are an engine for wellbeing and cohesion. It also powers economic growth. Innovators and entrepreneurs are attracted to creative, cultural, beautiful places. This is a large part of the reason why multinational companies are driven to invest in Ireland and in Dublin in particular.

Whilst we understand that the Government has various priorities, we strongly believe that the continued cuts to Arts and Culture have been deeply counter-productive over the past number of years.  We demand decency, fairness and cross-departmental communication to address issues of working and living conditions of artists.

We support Arts Council action on its Strategic Review Group and Departmental action on the development of a national cultural policy: Culture 2025. However alongside this we condemn the impact on smaller organisations and individuals of massively reduced funding to the sector.

Investment in the Arts sector gives us leverage to attract philanthropy and grow income from other sources, while providing the stability necessary to innovate and take risks while stimulating local growth in the process.


NCFA recommendations in relation to Budget 2016  

Each of the following recommendations will make a difference to the national cultural ecology, but the implementation of the two main recommendations below underpins and is essential to their success.

We want a non-physical infrastructure that allows every region to celebrate and grow cultural and creative talent, and to support the creation of new creative clusters. The investment in physical infrastructure through the ACCESS scheme, while broadly welcomed, has not resulted in the creative clusters that it could, due to a lack of ongoing investment in the Arts community itself as opposed to simply the built infrastructure. We need investment in the work of Arts practitioners nationally and regionally in order to prevent further heemorraging of our creative best to other sectors and overseas.


1.    We call upon the Department of Finance to increase current direct investment in Arts and Culture thereby beginning the process of repairing the widespread damage suffered by the sector in recent years.

An re-investment of €30 million in the Arts Council directly for 2016 would ensure the growth of the national cultural ecology. We believe that investment through the Arts Council is the most effective and efficient way of re-igniting the sector. This initial investment will accelerate economic growth and enable cultural organisations to become commercial contributors to their communities in the long-term.


2.    The NCFA call on the Government to match EU average GDP spend on the Arts.

Public funding for the Arts and Culture represents just 0.11% of GDP and puts Ireland at the bottom of European league tables compared to an average of 0.6%.


Creative industries and the economy

Our Creative Industries are thriving and are delivering sustainable jobs and considerable exports. Despite the considerable potential of the Cultural Industry sector, estimated to be responsible for over 3% of the EU's gross domestic product and jobs, they remain undervalued and unrecognised, especially in terms of their ability to access start-up capital and financing.

Public investment in the Arts and Culture, coupled with an education and learning system that values Arts and creativity, are critical to the success of these industries.

We recommend tax efficiencies be implemented to maximize the potential of the creative industries


Lottery Funding

Lottery funding should be separate to core government spend on the Arts via the Council. As in the UK, the implementation of two separate sources of funding could serve very different purposes – with grant-in-aid providing the backbone of the sector and Lottery funding filling the gaps - such as supporting capital, training and special projects.

We recommend the separation of Lottery funding from general Department of Arts funding in order to allow broader and alternative sources of funding to be accessible to the sector


Local Authority investment

Local Authorities are core partners in Arts and Culture. Many significant and effective projects, people and organisations are financially supported by Local Authorities.

The NCFA support the Arts Act's inclusion of the provision ‘to prepare and implement plans for the development of the Arts within its functional area and shall, in so doing, take account of policies of the Government in relation to the Arts.’

We call on any local authorities that have not published a current Arts Plan do so immediately

We condemn the widespread lack of collaboration and planning within local authorities between Arts and other departments to resolve ongoing issues of provision and access.

We call on local authorities that have vacancies in the post of Arts Office fill them immediately

From a Red C national poll conducted by the NCFA, we were able to show that the Irish public are deeply supportive of the Arts and expect more be spent on Arts locally. The Arts Council reported a total net expenditure on the Arts by local authorities of EUR 28.5 million in 2011 – a reduction of 27% on the 2010 spend of EUR 39.3 million.

We recommend that government begin re-investment in Local Authorities over the next five years.

The Arts budget is currently listed as ‘discretionary’ spend in local authorities, which means it is under constant pressure from other departments.

We recommend that expenditure on the Arts be reassigned as non-discretionary to ring fence local cultural spend

We believe that culture is a vital element in the regional growth agenda and that cultural organisations can, and do, make a significant contribution to local enterprise and are not being supported as they should be through local Enterprise boards and LEADER funds.

We recommend that local Enterprise boards actively include the creative industries in their support schemes and that a percentage of regional LEADER Funding ring fenced for artistic endeavour


Young people, education and learning

We need the next generation of creative young people to be engaged citizens, to imagine solutions to our problems and to be the flexible, innovative workforce that the creative, digital and wider businesses need. We know access to the Arts and culture builds much needed cultural capital and that early family exposure and engagement with the Arts gives young people the best possible life chances and the best chance of social mobility.

Government investment of public money in the Arts and education comes with the same responsibility to open opportunities for all citizens to learn to live in a world that embraces fairness, decency and respect for difference.

Schools and teachers are our essential partners in the delivery of cultural learning and are a critical part of the national cultural ecology; often providing the only access to the Arts to young people who do not have this access at home. Indeed, simple drawing is normally the only unpaid access that Primary School students have throughout their 8 years in school to the creative Arts.

We are sorely lacking in European terms, in that drama and dance in particular are not offered at second level. Given the extraordinary and confidence building transformative effect on teenagers that drama/dance can have, it is unfortunate that there is no provision for it in our education system.

We support the action by National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and initiatives such as the current consultation on Junior Cycle Art, Craft and Design Review. However we condemn the lack of action on primary school teacher’s call for more training and support in these areas.

We call for action on the Arts in Education Charter

We recommend that the Junior Cycle Review be extended to include Dance, Drama and Music

We recommend that Drama and Dance is introduced as a subject in Secondary Schools

Current Government policies focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as the core subjects for tertiary education. There is a growing body of research showing that in this educational matrix the exclusion of the Arts means that creativity, the most important element in educating the next generation of self-starters, is lost.

We support the recent allocation of research funding to the Arts via the Irish Research Council as  an effort to think STEAM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Arts/Maths) not STEM. However we condemn the impact of policies that have seen creative and performing Arts students struggle and be forced to drop out of third level having secured places because of short-termism in the withdrawal of grants and services in the last 5 years.

We recommend that government investment shift from a simple STEM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Maths) approach to education the broader STEAM focus (including the Arts)


Digital infrastructure and broadcasting

For the Arts and creative industries to thrive we need an excellent digital infrastructure and strong national publicly funded broadcasting partners. Continued superfast broadband rollout in rural areas will enable smaller creative businesses to grow. Public service broadcasters provide a platform for excellence, showcasing both the cultural and creative work of everyday artists and participants working in their own homes and communities, and the best of our funded national offer. Broadcasters have an important role in working in partnership with the sector and in amplifying the impact of public investment in culture.



ANNEX A: The current funding picture

A complex funding ecology supports the Arts and Cultural sector including: national public subsidy (chiefly grant-in-aid via the Arts Council and occasional direct funding from the Department of Arts), funding from local authorities, philanthropy and earned income from commercial endeavour. Each essential funding source serves to attract, leverage and enable the others, but public investment underpins all - giving organisations the stability to take risks. 

The sector has faced massive overall financial cuts over the last few years. grant-in-aid for the Arts distributed through the Arts Council fell by over €30 million in cash terms from 2009/10 to 2013/14.  This equates to more than a third of core national Arts funding being lost.

In the period 2010 to 2011 Local Authorities cut funding to arts by 27%. [4]


ANNEX B: Contributors to this paper

This paper was drafted by colleagues from across the National Campaign for the Arts membership; which involves hundreds of Irish Arts and Cultural professionals and organisations representing over 20,000 individuals working directly in the sector.

It is submitted by NCFA Committee members on behalf of the NCFA:


Jo Mangan
Chair, National Campaign for the Arts
Artistic Director/CEO The Performance Corporation

Claire Power,
Cultural Producer and Consultant, Brussels-based
formerly director of Temple Bar Gallery and Studios, Dublin

Philomena Byrne
Former Head of Public Affairs, Irish Museum of Modern Art

Madeline Boughton
Arts Consultant

Kerry McCall
Lecturer, Dept of Humanities and Arts Management, Institute of Art, Design & Technology (IADT)

Valerie Connor
Visual Arts Curator and Consultant

Annette Nugent
Cultural Communications Consultant

Vincent Dempsey
General Manager, Barnstorm Theatre

Fiach MacConghail
Director, Abbey Theatre

Kate Howard
Arts and Cultural Producer

Emer McGarry
Deputy Director
The Model

Deirdre Kinehan



For further information about this submission please contact

Jo Mangan: info@ncfa.ie or jomangan@me.com

087 286 2082


[1] Arts in Irish Life 2014, The Arts Council

[2] CulturalPolicies.net, Public Cultural Expenditure in European Countries, % of  total public expenditure/GDP

[3] Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht draft policy Culture 2025.

[4] Arts Council of Ireland


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NCFA Donation Appeal - Jo Mangan Chair

August 25 2015, at 11.26am

As the newly appointed Chair of the National Campaign for the Arts,  I would like to thank you for your generous support of the Campaign over the last few years. The NCFA has worked hard to get cultural policy and the arts firmly on the political agenda. We believe the work carried out at national, regional and local level ­by all of us ­has provided the Arts with much needed profile and some small protection funding wise.

Unfortunately the funding threat to the arts continues. Funding is now lower than 2005 levels, down over 5% this year alone ­and we know there is at least one more austerity budget to come. It is more important than ever that we are united in focus and equipped to protect our sector. We must all work hard to make sure the arts survive, thrive and make their essential contribution to contemporary Irish life and to our society. To do that I am asking for your continued support and help.

We want to build on the campaign’s momentum and profile to strengthen the argument for the arts beyond simple economics. This year’s campaign will focus on communicating the core importance of the arts for everyone alongside highlighting the low levels of investment in Ireland in relation to other EU countries. We will endeavour to put arts and culture on the political agenda across key government departments, to affect how the arts work within our wider society and to protect principles of access in the arts in relation to Education, Health, Local Government, Tourism and more. It is also our intention to keep the arts at the forefront of political and media debate to remind the government and the public of the vital role the arts play in our everyday lives. The importance of continually communicating this message cannot be overstated.

We’re asking you to contibute what you can to help the NCFA in its fight this year. As a voluntary group, we work hard, but cannot achieve all we would wish to due to all our other commitments. We need to ask for your help to allow us to hire a part-time coordinator for the lead up to Budget 2016 as well as the 2016 elections to help improve our ability to campaign effectively.

Your contribution will ensure we have a strong voice with which to lobby at every level ­locally, regionally, and nationally ­for the arts - our arts. Please go to http://www.ncfa.ie or send a cheque or EFT payment to the address below, to make your donation. Today.

Thank you in advance and for your support to date.


Jo Mangan
NCFA Chair


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Op Ed piece Deirdre Kinahan

June 18 2015, at 12.53pm

Alfred and Clementine Beit loved Ireland.  They loved Ireland so much that they left us their treasure, Russborough House and one of the most priceless art collections in the world.  It was their dying wish that the collection be ‘preserved for the future enjoyment of the Irish people’.   An incredibly generous and visionary gesture from An English Business man and his Irish wife.  Can we honestly consider selling it? Are we destined forever to ‘fumble in the greasy till’?

Irish Art needs patronage, our national galleries have had no acquisition funds since 2010. As the Irish Government and the Irish people successfully re-build our economy, it might be wise to cast an eye to the Irish soul.  The Beit collection is ours. It was gifted to us. It is staggering in its beauty and its brilliance. It belongs to our children.

The National Campaign for the Arts believes that the Irish people are more than an economy.  The Irish people are far deeper and have far deeper needs.   The Irish people won’t throw tuppence on the grave of Alfred and Clementine Beit because the Irish people know and value beauty.

That National Compaign for the Arts believe it is time to rebuild.  To lift our heads and let in the light.  Art brings light.  Art is a gift and it is not for sale.

Deirdre Kinahan

o Be a part of the campaign by becoming a Member today