Irish arts sector faces 7% funding cuts

Abbey Theatre in Dublin. Photo: Bjaglin
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Funding for Ireland’s arts sector has been cut by 7% in the country’s newly-announced Budget for 2014.

The higher-than-inflation fall marks the sixth successive year of cuts in arts funding and reduces the overall grant to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Galtacht to €233 million (£197.6 million).

Although arts, culture and film will receive the lion’s share of €123 million (£104.3 million), arts council funding will be reduced by 7% to less than €56 million (£47.5 million) and amounts to a cut of more than a third (34%) since the funding high of €85 million (£72 million) in 2008. At the time, the arts council launched a high-profile campaign calling for baseline funding of €100 million (£84.8 million) to fully service obligations to its clients.

The remaining €110 million (£93.3 million) of the department’s budget will be divided between heritage preservation and the development of the Irish language and Irish-speaking regions, with €38 million (£32.2 million) for projects involving collaboration with bodies in Northern Ireland.

Extra funding of €17 million (£14.4 million) has been ring-fenced for three projects, with Limerick receiving a €6 million (£5 million) contribution to its National City of Culture programme in 2014 and a similar amount going towards events marking the Decade of Centenaries 1912-22 programme covering key moments in the creation of the Republic of Ireland. €5 million (£4.2 million) has been allocated to renovating historic buildings.

A new regime for film tax relief, which will be extended to non-EU applicants working in Ireland for the first time, has also been brought forward and will now launch in 2015.

Announcing the new funding, arts minister Jimmy Deenihan said: “Even with a reduced departmental budget, every week more than €2.3 million (£1.9 million) will be invested in arts, culture and film next year. Well over half of this – €70 million (£59.4 million) – will go to the arts council and the Film Board. This will help to maintain and support the important role the arts play in innovation and expression as well as job creation and economic recovery.”

Opposing the cuts, Ireland’s National Campaign for the Arts claimed the cuts represent “an extremely concerning downward trajectory for core funding for the arts, which will result in further job losses, company closures, reduced programmes, diminished activity and support.”