What Budget 2017 means for the Arts

The Arts Council will receive €65.1 million from Government for 2017

Budget 2017, Budget 17, Michael Noonan,

Image: Sam Boal/Rolling News

Budget 2017 has come through for the arts. In a year when funding was very tight and competition intense, the Arts Council has received a welcome and much needed boost in its funding. It will receive €65.1 million from Government for 2017 which represents a significant 8% increase on its 2016 figure.

Irish people have a wonderful appreciation of and pride in the rich artistic heritage of this country. The 2016 Commemorations Programme saw huge audiences enjoy world class cultural offerings right around the country. The Arts Council is determined to build on the success of this year and to continue to support the best of artistic talent across the country. The 2017 budget will allow us to continue to roll out our ambitious new strategy  - Making Great Art Work – which will see more people participating and enjoying the arts in their local communities. 

Solid State investment in the arts matters a great deal. Access to the arts has a huge impact on society.  Art illustrates the human experience—the wonder of it, the bewilderment of it, the whimsy of it, and so much more. Taking the time to appreciate a beautiful painting, a wonderful book or a glorious piece of music allows us to breath a little, to apply a hard brake on the 24/7 relentlessness of life and to reflect. We would not be connected so deeply without the existence of art. It is entirely right that the State should fund the arts in a way that helps our artists to feel valued and supported and allows citizens good access to the arts.

Recent research published by the Arts Council and the ESRI shows the enormous impact of early exposure to the arts on young people. Irish children who participate in artistic and cultural activities cope better with schoolwork and have more positive attitudes towards school  and have increased cognitive development as well as an enhanced sense of well-being than those who are less engaged, according to the study.

The study identified that children aged 9 who frequently read and attend classes in music, dance or drama have an improved ‘academic self-image’ – or the confidence to cope better with schoolwork – by age 13. They are also happier, have reduced anxiety, better academic skills and fewer socio-emotional difficulties. When children are exposed to the arts at an early age it has a very significant and positive impact on them socially, emotionally and cognitively, the research found.  This research will help the Arts Council to plan some of its investment in this area more effectively.

The 2017 budget announced today will give us an opportunity to support new programmes targeted at children and young people in particular.  It will give us the comfort to work with Local Authorities around the country, to plan with multi annual budgets aimed at supporting artists across Ireland to make great art for all to enjoy. 

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Orlaith McBride is the Director of the Arts Council