Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 3 March 2015
Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht: Select Sub-Committee on Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
Estimates for Public Services 2015
Vote 33 - Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Revised)
We are in public session. I remind members to switch off their mobile telephones and other technological equipment. This meeting has been convened to consider the Revised Estimate for Vote 33 - Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in detail and to question the Minister in that regard. A briefing on the 2015 Revised Estimates from the Department, along with a suggested list of questions from the committee secretariat, have been circulated to members. I hope that everybody has had an opportunity to study the briefing and will use it in our consideration of the Estimate, including whether the Department's output targets are expected to be achieved and, if not, why not. Is that agreed? Agreed.
I welcome the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Heather Humphreys, the Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht with special responsibility for Gaeltacht affairs, Deputy Joe McHugh, and the Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht with special responsibility for new communities, culture and equality, Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin. I also welcome all of the officials from the Department. I now invite the Minister, Deputy Humphreys, to make her opening statement.
Is mór agam an deis seo a fháil Meastacháin mo Roinne do 2015 a phlé inniu.
My Department has responsibility for the conservation, preservation, protection, development and presentation of Ireland's heritage and culture. It also seeks to promote the Irish language, support the Gaeltacht and to assist the sustainable development of island communities.
A gross provision of almost €273 million is available to my Department for these purposes in 2015. An additional €6.216 million in funding has been carried over from the 2014 capital provision.
In broad terms, the 2015 breakdown of allocations to my Vote group are as follows. There is over €156 million for arts, culture and film, which includes approximately €59 million for the Arts Council. There is over €39 million for the conservation and protection of Ireland's built and natural heritage, with some €43 million for the Irish language, the Gaeltacht and islands, as well as over €38 million for North-South co-operation, including support for two North-South implementation bodies in the form of Waterways Ireland and Foras Teanga. The 2015 allocations again reflect the Government's ongoing commitment to the prudent management of our public finances but this is the first year in many years that there is growth in current funding for my Department. There is also additional funding for key targeted initiatives, including over €17.5 million for the decade of centenaries, including a new €4 million current allocation for 2016, €2 million in additional funding for the Arts Council and €2 million in additional funding for national cultural institutions. There is also €1 million in extra funding for Údarás na Gaeltachta and €1 million in additional funding for peatlands restoration.
I will provide some further detail in respect of the key areas of expenditure under my direct responsibility. The Minister of State, Deputy Joe McHugh, will speak about the relevant aspects of the Gaeltacht, Irish language and the islands programme, and the Minister of State, Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, will address matters related to Culture Ireland. My colleagues and I will make brief remarks and are happy to expand on any matter that members may wish to raise afterwards.
A key priority for arts and culture expenditure in my Department for 2015 will be the ongoing commemorations programme. The €4 million announced as part of the 2014 budget will support Ireland 2016, the Government's initiative to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising. It is very important that we commemorate those pivotal events of 100 years ago, which had such a profound impact on the future direction of this country. Ireland 2016 is much more than commemorations, and it presents us with a once in a generation opportunity to evaluate what we have achieved as a nation over the past 100 years and to look to where we want to go in the next 100 years. Further details of the programme will be announced shortly. The capital allocation of €13.5 million for commemorations, supplemented by €1.216 million in carryover from 2014, will provide for a number of flagship projects, or what I would term permanent reminders, to be progressed this year.
These include the development of an interpretive exhibition centre within the GPO complex that will focus on the events of 1916. Other flagship commemorations capital projects in 2015 will include the adaptation of the Kilmainham court house and gaol for use as a new visitor facility, the restoration of the existing premises at Cathal Brugha barracks to provide front-of-house facilities for visitors to the archive and for a state of the art storage facility for the military pensions archive. There will be development of a new visitor centre at Teach an Phiarsaigh at Rosmuc and a tenement museum at 14 Henrietta Street, along with the refurbishment of Richmond barracks, where the leaders of the 1916 Rising were held after their surrender, as a cultural, educational, training, heritage, tourist and community facility. The 2015 funding will also support the following projects, which form part of the Ireland 2016 commemorations programme. There will be development of the recital rooms at the National Concert Hall, as well as ancillary works to the foyer and front-of-house facilities. There will be redevelopment of the National Archives at the Bishop Street headquarters. Turning to other areas, I am very pleased that 2015 sees the first increase in current allocations for national cultural institutions which share an additional current allocation of €2 million for 2015. Furthermore, the major €32 million renovation of the National Gallery continues this year.
The important and valuable work of the Arts Council has also been recognised and reflected in the 2015 current allocation of almost €59 million, which is an increase of €2 million over the 2014 allocation. That will allow the council to continue to support arts organisations of various sizes, from national bodies such as the Abbey Theatre to small, locally based groups across a very broad range of individual art forms and practices.
Funding is also provided to meet the anticipated demand in 2015 for funding in respect of the Cork events centre. A sum of €2.5 million is provided in 2015 for Culture Ireland. The Minister of State, Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, will expand on the priorities for Culture Ireland in his contribution.
With regard to heritage, funding of €39.3 million has been made available for the Department's heritage programme. This includes over €31 million allocated for current expenditure, with a further €7.9 million in capital funding. A further €3.75 million in funding has been carried over from the 2014 capital provision. The protection of Ireland's unique raised bog special areas of conservation is a key concern, as is the avoidance of major fines by the Court of Justice of the European Union. This is reflected in the allocation of an additional €1 million in 2015 for peatlands restoration. Priority will also continue to be given to the turf cutter compensation schemes and investment in alternative turf cutting sites for affected cutters.
The Minister of State, Deputy McHugh, will speak about the relevant aspects of the Gaeltacht, Irish language and island Estimates in his address to the committee, so I will proceed to North-South co-operation.
A provision of more than €38.5 million is made available to support the two North-South implementation bodies, An Foras Teanga, comprising Foras na Gaeilge and the Ulster-Scots Agency, and Waterways Ireland. These budgets will be subject to the approval of the North-South Ministerial Council in due course.
Ireland's heritage and culture are of enormous inherent value. In addition, they make a significant contribution towards growing the economy and helping to create jobs. I will be happy to expand on any matter the members might wish to raise after the Ministers of State make their contributions.
Is mór agam an deis seo a fháil Meastacháin 2015 sna réimsí Gaeilge, Gaeltachta agus oileán a phlé leis an chomhchoiste. San iomlán, tá os cionn €56 milliún le caitheamh ag mo Roinnse i mbliana sna réimsí seo.
Mar is eol don chomhchoiste, tá an Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge mar dhúshraith do chur chuige mo Roinne sna réimsí Gaeilge agus Gaeltachta. Tá os cionn €12 milliún le caitheamh ag mo Roinnse i mbliana ar na scéimeanna tacaíochta Gaeilge agus Gaeltachta chun tacú le cur i bhfeidhm na straitéise taobh istigh agus taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht, agus ach go háirithe leis an phróiseas pleanála teanga faoi Acht na Gaeltachta.
Tá feidhm thábhachtach ag mo Roinnse maidir le forbairt na n-oileán. Tá €5.9 milliún ar fáil i maoiniú reatha i mbliana do sheirbhísí iompair chuig na hoileáin éagsúla agus tá €644,000 ar fáil i maoiniú caipitil do na hoileáin. Tá sé beartaithe héileapad a thógáil ar Thoraigh as an allúntas seo.
Tá soláthar méadaithe de bheagnach €18.5 milliún ar fáil d'Údarás na Gaeltachta i mbliana chun cabhrú leo a gcuid spriocanna fostaíochta agus teanga a bhaint amach sa Ghaeltacht. Tá mé an-shásta gur éirigh liom cistiú breise de mhilliún euro a fháil i mbuiséad caipitil an Údaráis, a chuirfidh ar a chumas 570 post úr a chruthú sa Ghaeltacht i mbliana. Cuirfidh buiséad reatha an Údaráis ar a chumas an próiseas pleanála teanga a thabhairt chun tosaigh sna limistéir a thagann faoina chúram.
Tá Údarás na Gaeltachta ag obair i gcomhpháirtíocht le páirtithe leasmhara eile chun ionad cuairteoirí a thógáil ag Teach an Phiarsaigh i Ros Muc mar chuid de Chlár Cuimhneacháin 2016 de chuid an Rialtais. Tá mé ag súil go mbeidh dul chun cinn suntasach á dhéanamh i mbliana ar fhorbairt an ionaid sa chaoi is go mbeidh sé réidh don chomóradh an bhliain seo chugainn.
Is gné thábhachtach í d'obair mo Roinne tacú leis an chomhoibriú thuaidh theas agus tá beagnach €13.5 milliún ar fáil don Fhoras Teanga i mbliana. Ós rud é go bhfuil an Foras Teanga cómhaoinithe ag mo Roinnse agus ag an Roinn Cultúir, Ealaíon agus Fóillíochta ó thuaidh, beidh an buiséad le haontú leis an Roinn ó thuaidh agus le faomhadh ina dhiaidh sin ag an Chomhairle Aireachta Thuaidh Theas.
Maidir le hOifig an Choimisinéara Teanga, tá soláthar méadaithe de €650,000 ar fáil i mbliana don oifig chun a chuid feidhmeanna reachtúla a chomhlíonadh faoi Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003.
Mar fhocal scoir, tá léargas ginearálta tugtha agam ar na réimsí a thagann faoi mo chúram mar Aire Stáit do ghnóthaí Gaeltachta. Tá mé lán sásta aon cheist a fhreagairt faoi mo chumais.
Táim an sásta a bheith anseo i dteannta an choiste chun labhairt faoi mo phost nua. Mar is eol don coiste, táim lonnaithe sa Roinn Dlí agus Cirt agus Comhionnanais chomh maith, ag plé le cúrsaí comhionnanais agus le comhphobail nua. Tá ráiteas agam anois gur mhaith liom a léamh amach don choiste.
I appreciate the opportunity today to discuss with the select sub-committee the 2015 Estimates, to outline this year's priorities for Culture Ireland and to build on the Minister's remarks on commemorations. The Department's Culture Ireland programme continues to create and support opportunities for Irish artists and companies to present and promote their work at strategic international festivals and venues. In 2014, the Culture Ireland grants programme supported more than 300 projects from all art forms, thereby enabling artists to perform in 51 countries around the world.
It was a successful year for developing new audiences. Culture Ireland supported Irish artists to reach 3 million live audience members and a further 6 million television viewers. Irish artists won high-profile awards and critical recognition. They also created important platforms for other State bodies, such as Tourism Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, to gain wider benefits for Irish tourism and business interests.
Culture Ireland's €2.5 million allocation for 2015 will be directed across all art forms, in line with its strategy, which is focused on strengthening Ireland's international reputation for innovation and creativity, and creating career opportunities for Irish artists globally. In addition to grant round funding and showcasing initiatives, Culture Ireland also supports Ireland's two key overseas cultural centres, the Irish Arts Center in New York and the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris. As well as maintaining important connections to the diaspora, these centres in prime cultural cities help to develop further opportunities for Irish artists.
To date in 2015, Irish artists have presented work globally, from New York to Sidney, as part of the 164 events that have been awarded support so far to take place this year. The music showcasing at Celtic Connections in Glasgow, the Folk Alliance International conference in Kansas in the US, and home showcasing at TradFest in the first two months of this year have already reaped contracts for many Irish musicians. For the St. Patrick's Day period this year, Irish film festivals have been supported to take place in Boston, New York, Rome, Moscow and Sidney. Irish musicians will tour extensively in the US, Australia, China and Europe.
I wish to refer to the ongoing work on commemoration of the historic events of 1916. The commemoration affords us time to interrogate the past based on hard evidence, to examine the issues in a dignified way and for communal reflection to seek to understand better the emotive forces that propelled the emergence of an independent state. Almost 100 years ago, Irish men and women, North and South, took up arms in many uniforms. The question of this island being part of an empire was one question that many sought answers to. They took that question apart in the trenches of the western front, in Gallipoli, at the Somme, in the rubble of Sackville Street, in the GPO and on Moore Street. Our memory project, in the decade of commemorations, will remember all of them. The expertise of our cultural institutions and the advice of historians, who comprise the Government's expert advisory group, will be central to our commemorations, as will the vibrancy and imagination of young people. I look forward to the continued support of Oireachtas colleagues as we develop and deliver these commemorative events.
Before I open the debate to Members, I wish to raise the issue of funding for community development offices on English-speaking islands. The Minister of State, Deputy McHugh, is aware of the issue because he has worked on it for some time. A number of the islands are located off west Cork, such as Bere Island, Sherkin Island, Dursey Island, Whiddy, Heir Island and Long Island. Funding will be in place until this month. There is a campaign to find a core funding stream and a permanent home in a Department. The Minister of State's officials have made contact, and he has had very senior contact at ministerial level, with the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. Will he give me an update on progress with that issue?
As the Chairman rightly pointed out, and I believe it is a question he has raised before given it is of interest to his home county where there are a number of non-Gaeltacht islands, it was highlighted before Christmas that there would be changes to the funding streams as a result of the new cap. I am delighted to inform the committee there is going to be a change. I acknowledge the work that took place behind the scenes, particularly by the Minister, Deputy Alan Kelly, and the Minister of State, Deputy Ann Phelan, and their officials, with my own officials in finding a solution. From 1 April, responsibility for the non-Gaeltacht islands will be moving to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and there will be a move in funding from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government to the tune of €300,000, and €400,000 in 2016.
There has been a lot of uncertainty around the non-Gaeltacht islands. I met people on both Bere Island and Sherkin Island and I had two public meetings prior to this decision, so I know there was a degree of stress and distress on this issue before Christmas. However, work can progress with willpower. We can sometimes be critical of a lack of interdepartmental thinking and a lack of proactivity at an interdepartmental and Government level. However, in this instance, I believe a tremendous effort has taken place between my Department and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, and also with the Minister of State, Deputy Ann Phelan's officials, to ensure there is a proper funding stream in place from 1 April onwards.
I say this by way of an update, given this was announced in the last number of hours. I acknowledge the role of the Minister, Deputy Kelly. For the first time, there will be continuity of responsibility in one Department for both the non-Gaeltacht islands and the Gaeltacht islands, which I believe is a good thing.
I thank the Minister of State. This is a very timely and apt response. While I do not expect the Minister of State to have the answer to this question today, the last time he was here, I mentioned to him the abandonment before Christmas of a tendering process for a Long Island ferry. If he cannot answer now, that is fine, but perhaps later this afternoon or tomorrow an official might let me know whether that process was concluded successfully and when the contract was awarded.
I am conscious of the fact the meeting is under time pressure and I understand we need to complete the business by 5 p.m. I would not be so ambitious as to think we would be able to go through the entirety of the subheads between now and 5 p.m. Perhaps all the time will allow is a few general questions.
I want to welcome the inclusion of the additional €2 million for the cultural institutions and I commend the Minister on what she has done in that regard. We were all concerned that the financial pressure on the cultural institutions was going to lead to a juncture at which they might have to introduce charges. As nobody wanted to see that happening, this is positive.
The overall spending on the arts has seen a slight increase, which I welcome, and I welcome what we are spending across the whole spectrum. Can the Minister give us absolute assurances in terms of the disbursement of these funds and in light of the transparency that exists, both in respect of her own Department and in respect of the Arts Council and how it transacts its business?
The country is doing well in the area of film and some impressive initiatives have been taken. The Minister of State, Deputy Joe McHugh, will be conscious of what is being done in Donegal where an initiative has been established with the local authority to promote Donegal as a destination for film production. A significant amount of funding is being made available to the film sector. Can the taxpayer expect to see a return other than the aesthetic benefit we get from the production of high quality television and film entertainment? Obviously, there are benefits that accrue to the country on a tourism front and further benefits that may accrue in terms of attracting international investment in the sector.
In the area of natural heritage, there has been a dramatic cut in funding from €14 million down to €9 million. I am concerned as to how that might impact on the National Parks and Wildlife Service. To a great extent it is the unsung hero of the public service. It works out of the public eye but does very valuable work on our behalf.
In terms of the built heritage, I am aware of the difficulties around the whole Moore Street project and I am supportive of what the Minister has attempted to do, but what is the present position with regard to Moore Street and does the Minister have any ambition to take the project forward?
I note that €43 million is being made available for the Irish language and the Gaeltacht and islands, as well as more than €38 million for North-South co-operation, including support for two North-South implementation bodies, one of which is An Foras Teanga. Out of that €81 million of expenditure what amount is being spent on language support and language promotion? Is is possible to extrapolate that information from the figures provided?
I thank the Deputy for his comments, particularly in regard to the increased budget for the cultural institutions. The Arts Council is funded by my Department and is statutorily independent in its day-to-day operations. Therefore the arm's length principle applies. It is independent in its decision on who it funds and the amounts it allocates. As a public body the Arts Council is required to adhere to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform's code of practice for the governance of State bodies and other practices of good governance and transparency. Disbursal of funding is required to be fully in line with public service financial and accountability requirements. I understand that the Arts Council also requires the organisations it funds to comply with similar standards. On its website the Arts Council commits to operating to the highest standards of corporate governance and has adopted a corporate governance regime in accordance with best practice, which includes a section on conflicts of interest. Full information on the council's funding decisions is made available on its website. Everything that has been paid out between 2008 and 2015 relating to funding is on its website. I am happy that the Arts Council continues to discharge its duty as the principal State agency for the promotion and development of the arts in Ireland in a strategic but transparent manner. It also publishes a newsletter on its decisions.
Returns from the film industry include 6,000 full-time jobs and 53 feature films which were made last year. Many of those employed in the industry are graduates. Some 65% of investment is inward investment. Some 20% of tourists come here because of movies they have seen.
The film is digital media-based and the content is a major growth market. I was in Kilkenny recently to meet the people from Cartoon Saloon. The company's film was a major hit and got a great nomination. Unfortunately, it did not get an Oscar prize, but it has won awards.
No, I did not. I was happy to watch it on television. Having said that, it is a great story for Kilkenny. There are 50 people employed there with plans for more employment. That is one of the opportunities the film industry produces.
A high-level expert group is examining the film industry to determine how to create the right environment for the industry to thrive. We had the section 481 incentives in the budget last year which gave tax relief on investment up to €50 million. The expert group is in place. We are keen to examine this not only on a piecemeal basis, but to have a proper plan for the film industry because it is important to our economy.
A Deputy raised a point about a reduction in funding for built heritage. The figure appears to be down but actually it is not down. We had a one-off €5 million built heritage scheme last year. This was the built heritage jobs leverage scheme and it was very successful. A total of €5 million was invested by Government and the scheme managed to leverage a further €10 million from private owners or organisations. This allowed many of the heritage projects to go ahead.
It was a once-off stimulus programme in 2014.
As for the other part, the €3.7 million is actually a carryover from the previous year. It was added back in this year and that makes up the difference. Although there appears to be a reduction, in fact, it stays the same.
I was asked about Moore Street. I am satisfied that I have fulfilled my statutory responsibility with regard to the national monument. Of course I was disappointed that Dublin city councillors rejected a proposal that would have allowed the restoration works to be carried out and for a visitor centre to be provided in time for Easter 2016. That said, my door is still open and my officials continue to engage on the matter. The national monument is 14 to 17 Moore Street and that is where my responsibility lies.
There was a good question about specific supports and how to prioritise the different support levels. I have an overall responsibility for policy and there are component parts within that area. Foras na Gaeilge has responsibility for North-South matters and matters outside Gaeltacht areas as well as Northern Ireland. I will pinpoint the support systems Údarás na Gaeltachta has to support and develop the language. The authority has overall responsibility for implementing language planning within the Gaeltacht areas. We could try to break it down and ask about the different areas in financial terms, but I believe we need to consider the matter holistically. The overarching focus of my post is a 20-year strategy and how we work towards the implementation of different schemes within the 20 year strategy.
If Deputies have specific questions on specific areas and seek a financial breakdown, I can provide it, but it is difficult to pinpoint which areas are developing or where the promotion is taking place because it is such an all-encompassing policy area.
Maidir leis An Straitéis 20 Bliain, is é sin an cloch is mó ar mo phaidrín. Ag tús an tsamhraidh anuraidh, ba shin an cloch coirnéil.
I welcome the Minister and Minister of State. The growth in the current funding for the Department is to be welcomed, after a number of years of decline. I have some brief questions. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl alluded to one of them, namely, the views on extending the built heritage jobs leverage scheme. Will it proceed and what shape will it take?
As I said, the build heritage jobs leverage scheme was a one-off €5 million stimulus package in 2014. It was very successful and leveraged another €10 million in private funding, meaning €15 million was invested in heritage throughout the country. Many projects benefited from it. As things improve I will put the case forward as to why another stimulus package should be funded, to the same extent if not more, if possible. It is a great way to protect our heritage.
Many communities are now involved. The Heritage Council does great work in that respect, and has a great system whereby it has engaged with communities over the past ten years. Heritage is for all of the people and many people are now becoming interested in it. There are many heritage groups throughout the country. It is great that there is so much engagement. Our heritage is part of who we are and where we belong. It is important that it is protected.
In regard to the jobs leverage scheme, some 540 historic structures across every county benefited. Of those, 525 were protected or proposed protected structures, with the remaining 15 located in architectural conservation areas. It hit every county in the country, which meant that everybody benefited from it.
I thank the Minister. It is true that we should concentrate on that because many groups and heritage buildings benefited from it. The Minister had a recent opportunity to visit my constituency, and visited Lissadell House in County Sligo. I ask her to elaborate on her impressions of the estate. Does she believe that historic houses such as Lissadell House and Hazelwood House are in need of Government support and funding?
I was delighted to be in Sligo and I enjoyed the hospitality and great welcome I got. It was a pleasure to visit Lissadell House which is owned by Mr. Edward Walsh and Ms Constance Cassidy. She could not be there that day, but he was there, along with his family, and it was great to see the major work they have carried out in the house. It is important that people are living in our historic houses because buildings are nothing without people. Deputy McLoughlin was there and saw how important it is to have a family living in such a house and what it brings to it. Renovations have been carried out and works of art have been returned. It has a close connection with Yeats. I was there to launch the Great Yeats Birthday Party which is happening on 13 June this year and is part of the Yeats 2015 commemorations.
There is also a connection to Countess Markievicz. We are coming into 2016. Women played a significant role in the Easter Rising, such as Cumman na mBán. The north west has a particular focus on the role played by women and it something we should consider in the commemorations.
All of these historic houses are very much part of our heritage and I believe we need to support them as far as we can and do whatever we can to ensure they remain an important part of our architectural heritage.
In respect of Lissadell House, the Minister is quite right about the Cassidy-Walsh family and the amount of investment it has put into the house, which is the Gore-Booth family home and has associations with Countess Markievicz and W. B. Yeats. My question concerned additional grants for such houses. This is a house that is being lived in. Nine members of the Cassidy-Walsh family live in it at the moment. It is a certainly a huge tourist attraction in the north west and it is vitally important that funding be made available and that when people are prepared to invest they be encouraged by the Department in respect of additional funding.
As the economy improves, I hope to be in a position to provide more money for historic houses. In the meantime, our staff are always very willing to give advice and provide whatever supports we can, because sometimes a bit of advice is of huge help in restoring some of these properties. We are very happy to engage and work with owners of these houses. Tax relief is available for work on historic homes that are open to the public for visits, and that is the case with Lissadell, because the owners very much want to make the house available to the public. That incentive would be of assistance.
Hazelwood House may not have appeared on the Department's radar but it will do so very shortly. There are huge plans for the house and I may speak to the Minister and her officials about it in the near future.
I wanted to ask about the overall funding for arts, heritage and the Gaeltacht. The Minister said that an additional €6.2 million in funding had been carried over from the 2014 capital provision. I wanted to check that this was for capital funding. What projects is this funding for? Is it just for existing projects or is there something new? From 2008 to 2015, the budgets of the national cultural institutions and the Arts Council were cut by between 40% to 50%. Although there are some very minor increases, they go nowhere near replacing those huge cuts in funding. All of the cultural institutions have contacted Deputies and publicised the fact that some of their services are at breaking point. I wanted to clarify whether those institutions were safe for this year.
The budget of the Department has increased for the first time by a small amount, but nearly all of that increase has been in the form of capital expenditure on projects that have already been announced, such as the renovation of the National Gallery of Ireland. It has been said previously in this committee, so I will not labour the point, but much of the increase - €4 million - is for the commemoration of the 1916 Rising.
From research I carried out previously, I know there is a real trend in jobs in the arts in the direction of part-time and poorly paid work and the use of free labour.
This has been highlighted a number of journals. To give the Minister some examples, an article in The Visual Artists' News Sheetstated that unpaid internships are becoming more common for a new generation of young arts workers, and that they prop up the sector. An article in Irish Journal of Arts Management and Cultural Policystated that the reality is that the replacement and displacement of paid jobs by interns does happen. Will there be any change in that trend now that we are meant to be in so-called recovery and the budgets are increasing? There is not much point in having increased budgets if people do not benefit and are not able to remain working in the arts sector on a living wage.
The National Library of Ireland has been highlighting this issue. Last October it said it would need €1.25 million in this year's budget just to keep existing services in operation. That was reported in The Irish Timeson 15 October. I may be mistaken, but the figure on page 25 of the Estimate is €600,000. Is that correct? That is half of what it asked for. Page 25 also shows the figures for output performance. It is not as if these institutions can cut back on the number of people who want to come in and avail of the services. The number of visitors in 2013 increased by 79,000, or 43%, on the previous year, so it would seem that the staff in the National Library are dealing with more people but the budget is being cut throughout the years. Will the National Library and other such institutions be able to provide the services? The figure for the National Archives is listed on page 9, but it is stationary; there is no increase. Is it the case that it is charging people for its services and is therefore able to maintain those services? That is not a positive direction for the arts and heritage sector.
On the centenary commemorations, we are all delighted that these will happen, but many people in the arts are not happy that almost the entire increase in the arts budget is for the commemoration of 1916 when people at the coalface are not able to heat their studios or maintain the practice of their craft. Will the Minister comment on that?
On the carry-over, the €12,016 is for the decade of centenaries. The figure for the Cork Events Centre is €1 million. For the heritage sector the figure is €3.75 million, and the allocation for Teach an Phiarsaigh is €250,000. There is a total of €6.2 million, and that is carried over from last year.
What is important is that in the 2015 budget I have managed to secure the position for the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. We have held the funding and turned the corner. The budget increased considerably compared to this time last year, and as things improve I will continue to fight for more funds for my Department.
The extra money achieved in the budget reflects my own priorities in terms of the decade of centenaries. There was €17.5 million in total, €13.5 million of which was for capital expenditure and €4 million of which was for commemorations. The arts will benefit from that €4 million as well. The cultural institutions will benefit. The Arts Council got an extra €2 million this year, but that was over and above the €4 million allocated. We have €4 million for commemorations, but the cultural institutions will be able to benefit from that fund, so the arts will benefit.
An additional €2 million was secured for cultural institutions and I have a breakdown of that figure. The Deputy mentioned the National Library of Ireland. We work very closely with it and my Department is in constant contact with it in terms of how we can best serve its needs. It was satisfied with the additional €600,000 we were able to allocate to it this year.
Access to the National Archives of Ireland is free. Payment is required for copies taken of the archives, and that practice has been in place for many years. The policy of free access to all our cultural institutions will continue.
The other part of the increase in the budget relates to the €1 million allocated to the peatlands restoration programme and a further €1 million allocated to Údarás na Gaeltachta.
In regard to the additional funding provided to the cultural institutions, many people are working in the creative sectors and they will benefit from the additional funding provided for the commemorations programmes, including €2 million for the commemorations programmes, €1 million for the cultural programme out of the €4 million allocation, artistic projects associated with the major capital projects and the creative and artistic input to interpretations.
The Deputy mentioned provision for artists. The change in the tax relief for artists increased the threshold to €40,000. Research by the Arts Council has shown that there is significant employment in the arts. While of course we would like more to be employed in that sector, perhaps some people have decisions to make for themselves in terms of supplementing their income.
Some 300 high-end jobs have been created in the construction work on the National Gallery of Ireland. Some 200 jobs have been created in the construction stage of the new interpretative centre in the GPO, and that project is progressing very well. Therefore, more jobs have been created in terms of funding for the arts.
I was not referring to the building workers involved in those construction projects. I was obviously referring to people in the arts sector, so the Minister has not answered my question. I also asked about the National Library of Ireland. It only got an allocation of €700,000 rather than the €1.2 million it requested.
The National Museum of Ireland will get a smaller allocation this year than it got in 2012. Even though the Minister is pointing out the positive in that the funding has increased, the point is that in 2013 and 2014 the National Museum of Ireland got less. Under her Government, it got-----
Unfortunately, we have been managing in very difficult times and hard decisions have had to be made. I want to be clear in pointing out that this year we have managed to hold on to our budget and to increase it. We held the budget as it was for 2014 and increased it. I am very happy with that. The National Library of Ireland and the National Museum of Ireland are satisfied that there has been an increase in their funding. We work very closely with them and they were happy that the funding was provided.
I thank the Minister and the two Ministers of State for their contributions. I will brief as I am aware of the time factor. In regard to the commemorations planned for next year, will any specific funding be targeted at local authorities or different community groups or allocated to commemoration activities involving young people and, if not, why not?
In regard to the Culture Ireland grants programme, the Minister of State, Deputy Ó Ríordáin, said that 300 projects were supported last year and he mentioned a number of film projects. Did that extend to literary projects? This year, County Meath will be hosting the third Hay literary festival, which is world renowned. Will projects like that one be covered under that grant this year?
My final question is for the Minister of State, Deputy McHugh. The budget allocation for the Irish language strategy has been increased by 10%. Has that money already been earmarked or will local communities like Baile Ghib in County Meath be able to avail of such funding?
I thank the Deputy for her questions. As regards the €4 million in additional funding for the 2016 commemorations, I was clear from the start that I wanted community involvement in them. Of course we will have the major parades which are all very much Dublin focused, but I want to give all citizens an opportunity to participate and engage with 2016. For that reason, 25% of the €4 million budget has been allocated to local authorities. We have met the city and county CEOs and I welcome the fact that they are keen to get involved and be part of the 2016 commemorations. Liaison officers and commemoration committees have been appointed in every local authority and we will be working closely with them. They will be able to roll out local programmes, involving heritage officers, museum curators and arts officers from all local authorities in every county. I am happy that they are keen to become involved. The year 2016 will be for all citizens in the whole country and will not be confined to events in particular places where the Rising took place.
Deputy McEntee mentioned the Hay festival with which I am familiar. It is a very successful literary festival and we will try to support it as best we can. I will examine whatever application is sent in.
I wish to add to what the Minister said about local authorities. In Deputy McEntee's county of Meath, there was a major event during the 1916 Rising in Ashbourne. It is important that the commemorations are not seen to be Dublin focused and that every local authority is able to commemorate the activities that took place in Easter Week 1916. There were quite a number of insurrections, small and large, throughout the country. Those best placed to commemorate them are local authorities who know the dynamics of their own areas much better. They can deal with community groups that wish to commemorate the individuals concerned and the events that occurred.
As regards the Deputy's specific question, an international programme to support Irish writers is in place. In partnership with the Ireland Literature Exchange, more than 20 translations of Irish writers have been produced. We had a major presence in Edinburgh, as well as at the Toronto and Berlin book festivals.
That concludes the select sub-committee's consideration of the Revised Estimate for Vote 33 - Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. I again thank the Minister, the Ministers of State and their officials for their attendance.