What Does the New Programme for Government Say About the Arts?

What Does the New Programme for Government Say About the Arts?

Commitments to cross-departmental taskforce for the arts sector; bursary schemes for young artists; support schemes for festivals, amateur dramatics and musicals; and Night-Time Culture Mayors for Dublin and Cork are all included in the new document.

After six weeks of negotiations, Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party published a 139-page Programme for Government on Monday (14 June).

The document contains four pages on arts and culture, including reference to a stimulus package for the arts sector – although this is likely to have been superseded by the Government’s announcement yesterday (16 June) of an additional €25m for the arts, including €20m for the Arts Council. There are also sections in the document on the film and television sector; community arts; night-time culture; creative and cultural infrastructure; commemoration; the Irish language; and built heritage.

Among the commitments are that the new government will establish a cross-departmental taskforce ‘to protect and sustain the arts and culture sector through the COVID-19 recovery and beyond’. The document also says it will also ‘protect the independence of the arts community’ and ‘continue to financially support the work of the Arts Council.’

Similarly, there is a commitment to support Creative Ireland – the Government’s creativity and well-being programme – and the recommendations of a recent report titled Engaging the Public on Climate Change through the Cultural and Creative Sectors. The contribution of women artists will be supported through schemes such as the Markievicz Awards, and the programme also makes reference to the events industry and says it will support it in a ‘green recovery’, assisting it in becoming more sustainable with a lower carbon footprint.

Amateur dramatics and musicals 
Under ‘Community Arts’, the document states that the parties will develop new bursary schemes for young artists, consider setting up a new National Town of Culture competition, support schemes for small local festivals, amateur dramatics and musicals, and expand the Creative Schools initiative, which promotes access to tuition in art, music, drama and coding. The document also says the new government will ensure that local authorities are supported in long-term cultural and arts planning.

Under ‘Creative and Cultural Infrastructure’, there is reference to arts spaces and measures to increase the provision of affordable spaces for artists, and a commitment to examine ‘Meanwhile Use’ legislation. ‘Meanwhile Use’ is a term used to describe the interim use of vacant buildings for arts, pop-up events and shops or business incubation.

Night-Time Culture Mayors
Under ‘Night-time Culture’, there is a commitment to establish, in the first thirty days of government, a Night-time Economy Taskforce to examine night-time culture at national and local level, including pubs, late bars, clubs and restaurants. The programme also supports the establishment of Night-Time Culture Mayors in Dublin and Cork.

Under ‘Film/TV/Audio-visual/Digital/Media Production’, there is a reference to the development of a ‘Digital Creative Industries Roadmap’ and plans to ensure the implementation of the new EU Copyright Directive, which will force tech companies such as YouTube and Facebook to ensure users have permission before they upload music and video.

General approach
Despite the commitments above, the section on arts and culture in the Programme for Government is short and predominantly general in tone, certainly in contrast to the sections in the document on other areas of the economy, such as sport, transport and agriculture, which contain firm funding commitments.

The document also does not directly address the thirteen points published by the National Campaign for the Arts at the end of May, although, with regards to the Covid-19 Unemployment Payment, it says it will ‘set out the future distribution … based on the principles of fairness and equity’ this July. The NCFA has called for the payment to be extended for those in the arts until it is financially and logistically possible for cultural events to take place.

Members of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party will vote on the document over the next week and the results will be announced on 26 June. 

Download the full document below.

Published on 17 June 2020

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