Thursday 10 December 2009

Budget 2010

The Irish Government has released its Budget for 2010, and while the predicted cuts have indeed arrived, they are not as ruthless as the McCarthy Report encouraged. Many recommendations of the report have been ignored entirely.

The IPSG would like to thank its members who petitioned the government and its representatives to remember the importance of the Arts to the cultural and economic vitality of Ireland. There is no doubt that the many heartfelt letters, emails, phone calls and personal meetings made a difference, so a virtual bualadh bos for your time and effort. Thanks also to the National Campaign for the Arts, which encouraged artists, arts groups and organisations around the country to pool their resources and prove their clout.

In particular the IPSG is pleased to hear of the promise to retain the Artist Tax Exemption, although in the Arts the definition of a very high earner might not match the figures in most other industries, so we await clarification on this matter in the coming weeks.

Martin Cullen TD, Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, has issued a press release about how the Budget will affect his department, and here are his thoughts on Arts, Culture and Film:

"At the Global Irish Economic Forum held in Farmleigh in September there was wide acknowledgement of the importance of culture in promoting Ireland abroad and developing a unique brand for the country in new markets. Most participants agreed that our unique and strong cultural identity provides the Government and the private sector with a strong competitive advantage abroad. Internationally, the creative economy is moving centre stage and creativity is seen as a crucial bedrock, underpinning our knowledge economy. I am pleased that significant funding to support the arts is secured for 2010. The overall allocation for the arts, culture and film area in 2010 is €166m as compared to €178m for 2009 - a 6% adjustment. Even in more stringent times, overall funding for the arts is up 14% on 2005 levels."

Here are the pertinent details:
  • Funding to the Arts Council, the state agency for the arts is €69.15m, a 6% reduction on the 2009 figure of €73.35m.
  • "Other key agencies like the Irish Film Board and Culture Ireland will continue to develop and support their sectors. Their budgets have been maintained at 2007 levels with the Irish Film Board allocated €19.31m and Culture Ireland, €4.083m. The important tax relief scheme, Section 481, for investment in film and TV production is maintained until at least 2012, underpinning the Government's commitment to the importance of our indigenous Irish film and audiovisual sector."
  • Culture Ireland and Tourism Ireland have intensified joint planning on cross-promotions in the cultural tourism field. Initiatives for 2010 will include a programme of cultural projects and events for the World Expo in Shanghai from May to October. In January, Culture Ireland will lead its annual performing arts promotional mission to the United States, its priority market, promoting an expanded range of showcases by Irish music, dance and theatre artists/companies.
  • Capital funding for arts infrastructure has been consolidated in the Department and all major arts capital projects will be completed as will regional capital projects to which commitments have been made. Projects for completion in 2010 include Solas Picture House in Galway, the Model Niland in Sligo, Limerick City Art Gallery and Droichead Arts Centre, Louth.
  • Day-to-day funding for the national cultural institutions is maintained at or above 2007 levels and their capital funding is maintained at 2009 levels to ensure continued investment in high quality visitor experiences as part of an integrated cultural tourism drive. The aim for 2010 is to exceed the 3.2m visitor target at the cultural institutions.
  • Investment in regional and smaller museums like Marsh's Library, Hunt Museum, Science Gallery, Print Museum, Foynes Flying Boat Museum and the James Joyce Centre will continue.
  • The digitization of the 1901 and 1911 Census will be completed. It is intended to name the preferred tenderer for the new National Concert Hall project shortly. Work is ongoing in assessing the GPO complex as a possible location for the Abbey, the National Theatre.
  • In 2010 the Department will also create a new National Opera Company.
  • The artist tax exemption has been maintained with some adjustment only in respect of very high earners to reflect a more equitable apportionment of the tax burden.
Commenting on the Government decision to continue the existence of Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board, the Chairman, James Morris said:
"I would like to acknowledge the role of the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism Martin Cullen in supporting the Irish Film Industry and the work of the Irish Film Board as the industry development agency. The support of the Government for Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board is a strong endorsement of the economic value of the film and television production sector to the emerging digital economy. It is also an acknowledgement of the cultural value of Irish artistic and creative work in building Ireland's international profile that emerged as a major conclusion of the Global Irish Economic Forum in Farmleigh earlier this year."

Commenting on the Arts Council's Budget allocation, the Chairman of the Arts Council, Pat Moylan said:
"The Arts Council recognises the enormous challenges facing the Government and the need to reduce public spending. The €69.15 million budgeted for the Arts Council in 2010, despite the pressure on public resources, underscores the commitment to the arts of the Government and especially the Minister for the Arts, Martin Cullen TD.

"We are grateful to Minster Cullen, and also to the many artists, arts organisations, TDs, members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Arts and to communities across Ireland who have in the course of recent months made public the value they place on the arts at this difficult time.

"The allocation does represent a significant reduction in funding, and, its impact, along with previous reductions, will be felt hard across the sector. However, as the country's expert body on the arts, the Arts Council is best placed to invest this money wisely, and we will draw on our experience and redouble our efforts to ensure that people right across the country have access to the best of the arts in 2010.

"The Council will also be focusing on the key role the arts can play in stimulating job creation, cultural tourism and investment at this time. We know from research that the sector is already making a very significant contribution to the economy and employment. Ireland's consistently high level of achievement in the arts means that they represent our 'unique selling point' as a country.

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