Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 17 October 2018
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs
Creative Ireland: Discussion
Cuirim fáilte roimh gach uile dhuine. Gabhaim míle buíochas leo as teacht isteach inniu agus as an turas a rinne siad go dtí Teach Laighean. I welcome Mr. Feargal Ó Coigligh, assistant secretary at the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Ms Tania Banotti, Creative Ireland programme director, and Ms Sinéad Copeland. I also welcome Mr. Eamonn Moran and Mr. Daniel Kearns from the Department of Education and Skills who will respond to questions arising.
Before we begin, I must draw attention to the fact that by virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to this committee. However, if they are directed by the committee to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and they continue to so do, they are entitled thereafter only to qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. Witnesses are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and they are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise nor make charges against any person, persons or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable. I also wish to advise the witness that any opening statements and any other documents submitted to the committee may be published on the committee's website after this meeting. Members are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable.
Tugaim cuireadh don Roinn Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta a cur i láthair a dhéanamh. I invite representatives from the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to make their presentation.
Mr. Feargal Ó Coigligh:
Ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a chur in iúil don choiste as deis a thabhairt dúinn bheith i láthair inniu chun labhairt leis faoi chlár Éire Ildánach, maoiniú an chláir agus an dul chun cinn atá déanta go dtí seo.
I am assistant secretary for the culture division of the Department, which includes the Creative Ireland programme. I am accompanied by Ms Tania Banotti, director of the programme, and Ms Sinéad Copeland, principal officer. I am also accompanied by Mr. Eamonn Moran and Mr. Daniel Kearns from the Department of Education and Skills, which is a key partner Department in the programme. I will make some introductory remarks and then hand over to my colleague, Ms Banotti.
The Creative Ireland programme is a five-year, all of Government, culture-based initiative that emphasises the importance of human creativity for individual, community and national well-being. That is what it is but what does the programme actually do? Led from within the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the programme is fundamentally a collaborative effort involving Departments, Government and non-Government agencies, local government, voluntary groups, as well as academic and cultural organisations to develop, encourage and facilitate initiatives and policies that enable participation in creative activity at all stages of life. The job of the programme is not to duplicate the work of the Arts Council or the Heritage Council or any other body but to work together across various policy areas to bring innovation and co-ordination to a range of important initiatives, ultimately serving citizens in a better way. Bodies such as the Arts Council and the Heritage Council and local authorities are important partners, particularly in the roll-out of the Creative Schools and community-based initiatives.
Ms Tania Banotti, who took up her role as the director of the programme in June, will give the committee a short overview of progress across some of the key initiatives of the Creative Ireland programme as we head towards the end of its second year. The first year, 2017, presented a learning opportunity for the Department to build new relationships and explore new policy areas, and we initiated a number of very important initiatives. In 2018, with an allocation of €6 million, we are progressing these initiatives and adding to them. We are starting to embed important strategic relationships across Government and looking to the longer-term impact of some of the work of the programme. It should be noted that a further allocation of €1.15 million has been provided for the programme in 2019 to bring funding up to €7.15 million in a full year. I should also point out in relation to funding that the Department is anxious to ensure maximum transparency and publishes a detailed breakdown under all funding heads on its website. We circulated a document giving details of this year's expenditure to the committee in advance of the meeting. I will now hand over to Ms Tania Banotti.
Ms Tania Banotti:
I will take the committee through some of the key areas of the Creative Ireland programme's work. Cultural and creative education is one area where working together is so important and is having an impact. It is also potentially the most transformative part of Creative Ireland's work. Under pillar 1, known as creative youth, we published and launched a plan in December 2017 to enable the creative potential of every child and young person. This plan brings together a number of Departments, most critically the Department of Education and Skills, but also the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Arts Council. We have a very close working relationship and meet monthly. We are all working together to deliver pillar 1 of the programme. The plan sets out very specific goals within the Creative Ireland programme to ensure that every child in Ireland has practical access to tuition, experience and participation in music, drama, art and coding by 2022.
We committed more than €2 million to the programme in 2018 and are developing a number of pilots this year. We have been given the scope to see which of those pilots is most successful and could be mainstreamed.
Our flagship initiative is, perhaps, the one involving 150 creative schools which was announced recently. Almost 10% of schools nationally indicated that they wished to be known as creative schools and to take part in the programme. We have recruited 50 creative associates and teachers and given them some training. They are now fanning out to the 150 schools to work with children, teachers and principals to develop a bespoke creative plan for each school. Each school will itself identify the areas it wants to work on. It could be a particular art form. Perhaps a school in Dublin's inner city might choose a different art form from a school in Donegal. However, it is up to the school itself. We will also look at working with particular national organisations which have programmes for children in schools like, for example, Poetry Ireland and the Irish Film Institute. We have also invested considerable sums in continuing professional development, CPD, for teachers.
Another recent announcement involved the 68 schools chosen to be part of a creative clusters programme which my colleague, Mr. Eamonn Moran, can tell the committee about. Clusters are a particular initiative of the Department of Education and Skills. There is a creative cluster but there are also digital clusters and DEIS clusters. The idea is to get between two and five schools working together to use art and creativity to address shared challenges and achieve better learning outcomes. Each of these clusters has a small budget of approximately €2,500 to spend on a particular project in a school year.
We will shortly see the outcome of the creative youth partnerships process, applications for which have recently been submitted. This process aims to establish networks which will, in this instance, be led by the education and training boards, ETBs. Partnerships will foster real collaboration among local creative youth service providers. We hope this will bring about an improved use of resources and practices in each of the ETB areas. We envisage that three ETBs will be included in the pilot phase to be announced before Christmas. We are also building on CPD for teachers across primary and post-primary levels. We are looking to develop early years CPD also. CPD will serve truly to embed creative practice in school settings. We intend to continue to build on that in future years.
The second area of progress and one which involves a significant level of expenditure for Creative Ireland is the creative communities pillar, or pillar 2. In 2017, our Department allocated €1 million to 31 local authorities while the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government allocated an additional €1 million. All of this allowed us to establish cross-sectoral culture teams. There is a Creative Ireland co-ordinator in every local authority now. Our Department doubled this funding in 2018, which, along with the €1 million from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, has allowed us to increase activity and capacity building in local communities. We have more than 500 initiatives which range from the restoring of ships to intergenerational choirs to social farms where farming and the arts work together for those with intellectual disabilities. It is up to local communities themselves to decide how they wish to spend that money. We want to sustain this and build on it over the coming years.
It should be noted that this work builds on significant prior investment. As members know, the Arts Council and the Heritage Council are funding initiatives together with the Department of Rural and Community Development. Our secret sauce, however, is in that cross-sectoral working. This is the real value of the programme. We are bringing together librarians, heritage officers, arts officers, local enterprise officers and conservation officers, if they exist. These people work in teams where traditionally they might have been somewhat in a silo. One example from Creative Ireland in Cavan involves the funding of a new award-winning Cavan playwright, Philip Doherty, and the wonderful Aaron Monaghan of the Druid Theatre Company. This funding will allow two of Cavan's finest artists to work together for the first time. Creative Ireland in Kerry has funded a number of initiatives, including the development of creative hubs and incubation spaces at key locations across the county. That process is being researched, as is the possibility of film-making in the county and how, with Kerry Education and Training Board, the county's film-producing skill set could be explored. These long-term strategic projects run alongside events that might have been happening already but which, with Creative Ireland funding, can expand. Examples include the Sliabh Luachra music trail and the Creative Ireland Kerry grant scheme.
This year saw the roll-out of the first ever Cruinniú na nÓg, a national day of creativity for children and young people. Ireland is one of only a few countries in the world to have such an event. Approximately €800,000 was allocated to the roll-out, with each local authority receiving €10,000 to develop a specific programme of creative activity for children and young people in its communities which would have an expression on that one day in June. Dublin City Council was allocated €350,000 which was put through Dublin's Culture Connects, a company associated with the local authority, to run a number of initiatives within the city. A total of 500 events took place nationally and we had a successful media campaign in partnership with RTÉ and others to ensure that as much information as possible was available for those who wanted to get involved. We curated some special content for our social media channels, including short videos where some of the children involved in the run-up to the project were filmed making their projects as a way to encourage other children and young people to get involved. We also built a special website to allow people to search for events taking place in their local towns and villages. People could search by age of child or location. We worked with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to ensure that children were consulted in this process. We brought together a group of children of primary school age and of post-primary age to ask them what a day of creativity or a children's creative festival looks like to them. Their thinking informed the roll-out of the programme in 2018. We are looking at ways to improve the event even more for next year and working with our Creative Ireland co-ordinators in the 31 local authorities in that regard.
We also launched in 2018 a special Creative Ireland programme scheme, namely, the national creativity fund. The scheme allows innovative projects to apply for funding on a pilot basis where such projects have the potential to inform future Government policy and to scale up. We had a fantastic response with 287 applications. An independent panel of nine people assessed those applications from a variety of arts, heritage and other backgrounds, including rural development, and 30 projects were allocated funding to run over 2018 and 2019. We have put in place robust service-level agreements with these new projects and hope to work with them and support them and, perhaps more important, learn from them, feeding into wider Government policy. A sum of €1.2 million has been allocated to these projects, with the majority of the funding to be disbursed in 2019.
Communicating what we do is important as we want people to understand the importance of culture and creativity in the arts. We want to build audiences and we want to increase people's opportunities to engage, in particular at community level. That is why we invest in a good quality communications programme and website and have shot some films with some of the beneficiaries in local communities from Carlow to Cork regarding what we do. We want to use these platforms to access as many people as possible and widen their access to creative and cultural experiences. We engage with national and regional print and radio to develop high-quality resource material and information. More and more people are accessing us through our social channels. We had a large conference in Dublin Castle in December 2017 and had 12,500 people follow us as we live streamed the event for those who could not attend. I assure the committee that we will continue to monitor this to ensure there is value for money and an impact from it.
A full breakdown of all costs associated with the Creative Ireland programme in 2017 was published online and sent to this committee at the start of the year and, again, yesterday and we plan to do the same for 2018. The Creative Ireland programme presents opportunities across all areas of Government and we look forward to progressing it over the coming years.
Míle buíochas as an cur i láthair iontach - fair play. I understand that we will not have a presentation from the witnesses from the Department of Education and Skills but that they are open to questions. I might start the questions if there are no takers just at the moment.
Fair play. I congratulate Ms Banotti on her new role in which I wish her luck. It is a great opportunity for her and for the sector. The issue of citizen engagement is an important one.
I notice it is one of the larger investment levels from the Department. There is engagement for the purpose as has been laid out, but there is also engagement for the purpose of Government engaging with the State. There was a worry at the start that the engagement could be used for the purposes of promoting Government activities rather than the development of the sector. I would like the witnesses to attend to that question. I am going to ask a number of questions.
One of the other concerns that existed in the early days of the Creative Ireland organisation is the fact that it was a new funding model. People asked what it was for and why we had another arts funding model when we have the Arts Council, which has a very clear arm’s length policy of distributing State funds throughout the country. Will the witnesses address the funding model of Creative Ireland and how we ensure it is perfectly safe with regard to the delivery of funds not being influenced by the State and in being accessible to real artists on the ground who need funds. We know that, since 2013, there has been a fall in the income of artists, even though the economy has improved and grown a little.
I do not think the word Gaeilge was mentioned in either presentation. Now that we are in the closing stages of Bliain na Gaeilge and given the Irish language is one of the most important cultural elements of the country by far and a unique element of culture, I wanted to see the role of the Irish language in Culture Ireland. From my perspective the Irish language is often seen as an afterthought or is often relegated to particular organisations rather than washed through the whole experience of every single State organisation. Will the witnesses to respond to the questions and we will take it from there?
Mr. Feargal Ó Coigligh:
I will commence. In fairness, Ms Banotti joined us in June 2018. Some of the issues go back to the origins of the Creative Ireland programme. It is interesting to look to see where the origins of the programme came from. We are developing our overall cultural policy and the committee has been helpful in this regard. The Department for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht led a cross-Government programme in the Ireland 2016 Centenary programme, working with agencies throughout the State, and together with the Arts Council, other Departments and local authorities, we were able to bring a huge amount of national pride. When we were looking back to see why it worked, we realised part of it was the cross-cutting nature, the engagement on the ground and the work by local authorities. There was a feeling that we needed to build on that. That is the basic structure that underpinned the Creative Ireland programme.
The focus of engagement must be on the programme, where it is not advertising Government but rather advertising and promoting culture and creativity at the local level. If one looks at the figures, there has been a significant shift in terms of the first year costs of the programme, where there was a significant cost in developing new websites, new digital interfaces as well as very upfront engagement, and that has been reduced significantly in the second year as we move to the programme. Ms Banotti may be able to speak about the programme issues.
I will now address the funding model and the application of the arm’s length principle. I met the National Campaign for the Arts recently and we were discussing the principle of arm’s length. I made the point that an issue with this principle is that when people ask whether we respect the arm’s length principle and we respond that we do, the conversation ends. I made the point that we need to talk about the arm’s length principle because sometimes it gets in the way of working together. For example, the Department has not had a history of working with the Arts Council or with the Department of Education and Skills. In fact, the Department of Education and Skills and the Arts Council would not be able to work together in delivering the Creative Schools programme if it were not for the glue to bring everything together provided by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in its role as a Department. That is collaboration, which is not getting in the way of the Arts Council's arm’s length principle. We are not making choices as to whether artist X or artist Y should be supported. We are not determining what artists can say. That is not a space where we go. When we talk about the arm’s length principle, we need to engage on what we mean by the term so as not to create artificial barriers that prevent us working together.
As Ms Banotti rightly pointed out, the difference between directing funding through the Arts Council solely and the way we are providing a small amount of funding through the Creative Ireland programme is the issue of collaboration. The Arts Council is very much about promoting the professional arts in Ireland, and rightfully so. The Heritage Council is about promoting interest in our heritage. We found with the Ireland 2016 programme that it was often the case that it was the first time at local authority level that librarians, archivists, arts officers and heritage officers actually worked together. That is a significant level of cultural energy that we were missing. The core point of the programme was to ensure that we put in place these cultural teams, which did not happen in the past. That has been very successful. The Arts Council or the Heritage Council alone could not have done that whereas the Department, which has a broader responsibility for engaging in our culture, was able to bring those partners together. That is why it is different. It is not trying to promote what particular people would say or not say.
Ms Tania Banotti:
The Creative Ireland programme head office is not funding artists. We are not a quango. As Mr. Ó Coigligh said, ultimately we give the money to the local authorities.
The Chairman asked about Bliain na Gaeilge. I draw his attention to the submission which states that about one third of our budget goes to the creative communities piece via the local authorities. The local authorities may decide that they wish to do something around the Irish language under Bliain na Gaeilge or they may decide to do something around the arts, heritage or the libraries programme. They may decide to do something I am thinking of that featured in the Irish Independentlast week, which was an initiative in County Kildare where the 500 people who measure the weather every day for Met Éireann are involved in an arts project, so that it brought together environmentalism and the arts. We do not decide whether it is the artist who gets that funding. Ultimately, it is the local authorities and the team that we have that decide what they need in their local community.
Perhaps there has been a misunderstanding. We are not in the business, as the Arts Council is, of funding professional artists. The only exception to that is under the national creativity fund, where certain arts organisations have come to us where they are doing something quite innovative. For example, the Saolta University Health Care Group in Galway wants to develop a project around the arts and health across seven hospitals, which has never been done in Ireland. The amount of funding that the Arts Council has is specifically restricted to the artist's fees, but there is something missing and we are thinking how we could look at the project and get the arts and health to work better together. The best way I can describe our role is that we are more like a lubricant, in the sense that we are bringing different Departments to the table.
I might ask Mr. Eamonn Moran to talk about the new relationship we have with the Arts Council for the Creative Schools initiative because the Chairman's concern is that we are replacing the Arts Council. That is not the case. The Arts Council is our implementing partner for Creative Schools. The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Department of Education and Skills have given the Arts Council approximately €1 million, all in, for the first pilot project of Creative Schools, recognising the Arts Council's expertise in terms of arts-rich schools. It is the best implementing partner for this. I hope that explains the position. We are not in the business of funding artists. We are in the business of projects that fall between two stools and that at the national level might be funded as pilot projects under the national creativity fund. At local authority level, it is in fact the local culture teams that decide what gets funding.
Mr. Eamonn Moran:
I thank the Chairman and members for the opportunity to speak to the committee about Creative Ireland. The Department of Education and Skills did not make an opening statement but we are delighted to be involved in the Creative Ireland programme.
Our focus is on pillar 1 of the programme, which is creative youth. There are approximately 19 actions being initiated under this pillar. Our Department has effective lead responsibility for approximately ten of those, about which I can speak at greater length later. Several involve the schools. We have approximately 4,000 schools in the system, comprising 3,200 primary schools and 800 post-primary schools, and there are some Youthreach centres involved as well. Anyone who has children or nephews or nieces in school, particularly a primary school, will know that all schools regard themselves as creative. They were not waiting for Creative Ireland to come along to become creative, but we see the benefit of Creative Ireland as allowing us, through co-operation between Departments, the Arts Council and other bodies, to identify innovative ways to assist schools and students in and out of school to become creative and identify best practice. The Creative Ireland programme can provide an initiative for those schools that are creative to enhance the element of creativity that they offer to their students and, in respect of those schools that might be more focused on sport, to get involved also in the creative area. We see it as a great opportunity for our schools to get involved.
There are approximately 150 schools taking part in the first phase of the Creative Schools initiative which is led by the Arts Council. The aim is for that number to double for the next phase of the programme. For all of these 19 initiatives under pillar 1, we are in the pilot phase in that we are trying out many initiatives in schools and they are very receptive to helping us try them out. In addition to receiving support from dedicated teachers and artist facilitators, the 150 schools in the Creative Schools initiative receive approximately €2,000 seed funding to help them put their creative school plan in place. Reflecting the general number spread between primary and post-primary schools, of the 150 participating in the first phase, 110 are primary schools, 30 of which are DEIS schools, and 30 are post-primary schools, eight of which are DEIS. There are seven special schools and three Youthreach centres. Schools from every county are participating.
Ms Banotti and Mr. Ó Coigligh referred to the close co-operation between our Department, the Department of Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, and the Arts Council in the various initiatives. In Creative Schools, for example, we have seconded two teachers, primary and post-primary, to the Arts Council. They work very closely with us and the Arts Council. They bring a pedagogical perspective to the project and that initiative is working very well. It is probably the flagship action in creative youth and has attracted a great deal of interest from schools. I am happy to provide further information on the other actions but that is a thumbnail sketch of the Creative Schools action.
I appreciate the importance of co-ordination in all of this. A common complaint at the committee is that different Departments and organisations often work in silos but there is great energy in collaboration.
In the funding allocated to different streams, the Irish language receives €79,000 of €2 million, which is approximately 3%, and while I understand Creative Ireland does not want to be prescriptive about what is achieved through certain funding and organisations, the State has a 20 year strategy for the Irish language, which is within one or two generations of dying as a community language. That would be a shocking shame. As a result there needs to be a co-ordination element in ensuring it is part of the normal funding and development in all aspects of the Department.
Ms Tania Banotti:
This is one part of it. Separately, the Department directly supports Ealaíon na Gaeltachta and, through the Creative Ireland fund, it has asked us to help it develop an Irish language strategy for drama, which we are funding under the national creativity fund. That is not listed under the communities. It was an area where nobody was quite doing it but we felt if we gave it some support, we could lift it up. I take the Chairman's point that there could be more Irish language but we either believe in partnership, in which case it is the local authorities who decide what they want to do, or we do not. It is the local authorities who have decided the allocation between Bliain na Gaeilge and other pillars of our activity.
I thank the witnesses for their presentation. I come from a very rural peninsula and a rural constituency and I worry about how accessible funding like this is to rural communities. We saw last week that with €60,000, Sherkin Island can deliver a massive arts programme. Some communities can deliver quite a lot, even with very little. It is important that the Creative Ireland arts grants scheme is accessible to communities. Many communities, unfortunately, fall between two stools. They are off the radar of the local authority but they might be active on the ground. They might need a bit of help in filling in applications and might not be aware of what is available. They may not be at the top level and ticking all the boxes for local authorities. The education and training boards do not cover every area in rural Ireland. Accessibility for island people is important. I am thinking of the islands in my constituency in west Cork. I would like to see how they are able to access the scheme. Will Ms Banotti elaborate on that?
Ms Tania Banotti:
Far from there being a bias against rural areas, the former Minister, Deputy Humphreys, prioritised the rural areas because every local authority gets the same amount of money. While €100,000 for Dublin City Council's programme would not mean very much, it would be significant for Cork county, especially spread through the Deputy's community.
Conor Nelligan, the heritage officer in Cork County Council, is the Creative Ireland co-ordinator in that area. We have brought with us the Cork county plan to show the committee. Mr. Nelligan drew up a creative and cultural plan for County Cork with consultation, including with the island communities. We are not hearing what the Deputy is hearing. In fact, we are hearing that because it is somebody local to that community who is responsible for dispersing that funding, people feel it is quite accessible. They are not applying to Creative Ireland headquarters. They are applying to Mr. Nelligan with whom they already deal. We can show the committee some of the county plans launched by the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government a couple of weeks ago.
I welcome Tania Banotti as the new director of Creative Ireland. I have known her work for the past 20 or 25 years and congratulate her on getting this job, and I congratulate both Departments for being perceptive enough to give it to her. She will play a very distinctive role and make a distinguished career and contribution to the arts in other forms of creativity and imaginative development.
One thing the Department of Education and Skills might consider is giving 25 points to music or visual arts in the leaving certificate, similar to what is done for mathematics, whether that is pass or fail. We pass failure in mathematics now and think that is a great idea because we were told that by banks and universities. On visual arts and music, which is the core of much of what is being done, if the Department of Education and Skills made a case to give 25 points for those passions, would that help in the development of creativity within schools, whether primary or secondary? A link runs right from the time a child is in middle school onwards. I would like an answer to that.
I return to the issue of a new Arts Council. This is where we get bogged down. I like the idea of lubricant but it reminds me of Vaseline. I ask that the witness goes back to what is meant. This is where we are getting caught. Where does the Arts Council begin and end? Where does the funding come in and where does Creative Ireland get it and where does its authority start and end? It is the same with the Department of Education and Skills. Is a job being done that was not being done by the Department or is it because there is so much else to do that it might have suffered a bit of slippage? Where does Creative Ireland begin and end in that context? When it is said Creative Ireland does not fund, it actually does because it is funding Mr. Philip Doherty, the Cavan playwright. Is that correct?
Yes. I am getting bowed down in the Doric pillars and what is what and where is what. Perhaps Ms Banotti might answer that and put our minds at rest. Perhaps somebody might write down what Creative Ireland is. We know what it is individually but we do not know what it is relative to the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht or the Department of Education and Skills. I agree it is a wonderful linchpin and a wonderful bridge over the River Kwai, but I do not know where it begins and ends. We are getting bogged down and perhaps a bit conspiratorial.
What plans has the Department of Education and Skills for the education of teachers in creativity and the arts? I refer to arts in education. There is much continuing professional development, CPD. Where is the money for that? Where and how is that happening? Is it going to happen on an ongoing basis and can people link into it in the teacher training colleges? Will Mr. Moran lock that in for me? It is very important and will not happen in many ways without that. Sometimes people can think they are creative when they are not at all. What is the standard and what is the Department doing in regard to that aspect? Could more attention have been given to DEIS schools? Could they have been prioritised more? I know they are there and I know the Department wants fair play. Could more schemes have been initiated in that sector or could those schools have had slightly easier access?
I welcome this and I think it is extraordinary. I saw creativity happen through the heritage weeks for years. It is wrong to say that it never happened before. It did happen before but sometimes it might not have been recognised. People did it on their own and groups got together. It is wonderful to bring all the conservation officers, heritage officers, musicologists and teachers together at the level of the community, education and training boards, or schools. I have a side question.
Do representatives from the Department of Education and Skills have any comment to make on Galway 2020? We are being drip fed stories in the press and newspapers about there being many changes, spaces, artistic disquiet and noises off, to use the playwright's term.
Mr. Eamonn Moran:
I thank Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell. If I might answer the questions she raised on education, the 25 bonus points issue is something we have been asked about in a number of fora over recent months. We recently launched the foreign languages strategy, Languages Connect – Ireland’s Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education 2017-2026. That was last November and it led to calls for providing bonus points for some of the foreign language subjects. A week later we launched the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, STEM, policy statement. That led to calls for bonus points for STEM subjects. We have also heard calls for bonus points for subjects such as visual arts and music. We are going to have to look at this in the round. The decision to award bonus points for mathematics arose from particularly negative findings in one of the international surveys a number of years ago, the programme for international student assessment, PISA. A number of actions were taken under the literacy and numeracy strategy and the then Minister for Education and Skills, former Deputy Mary Coughlan, introduced the bonus points for mathematics. I think there are other ways to incentivise the take-up of subjects. I do not think we are going to go down the road of bonus points with other subjects.
On the question Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell asked Ms Banotti about whether Creative Ireland is doing the job of the Department of Education and Skills, I made a point at the start that the Department and schools already regard themselves as being creative. We see Creative Ireland as providing an opportunity to provide enhanced opportunities for creativity across arts, music, drama and culture. I do not think any school would come out and state that Creative Ireland has sparked the creative pilot light in us. Many schools are already creative.
Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell also talked about teacher education and continuing professional development. That is crucial and it is good she asked the question. Two of the actions in the creative youth pillar are specifically focused on CPD in primary and post-primary schools. The teacher-artist partnership action, a pilot phase of which pre-dated Creative Ireland, is being fast-tracked and embraced under Creative Ireland. This refers to where primary school teachers can undertake a course in the summer run in any of the 21 education centres countrywide. Those are attended by teachers and by artist facilitators. The teachers and artists spend the week identifying programmes to help enhance creativity in the schools. When the teachers go back to the schools, they have an opportunity to apply the learning they acquired during the summer.
The programme is accompanied by a number of artist residencies where the artist participating in the teacher-artist partnership programme would have a residency in a school for a term. He or she would work with the teachers and students to help develop creativity in the school. We are very conscious that teachers are key to the success of many initiatives from the Department, and not only in the Creative Ireland space. We are keen to work closely with them. The teacher-artist partnership programme has been successful after its initial phase. We had a full year of it last year and a full year of it this summer as well. We are hoping to ramp that up over the course of the programme.
At post-primary level, the challenges moving towards the leaving certificate are more difficult-----
Mr. Eamonn Moran:
We have a programme at the moment called arts in junior cycle. It seeks to provide CPD to teachers to help them teach the junior cycle subjects in creative ways. An example with English would be a programme called Speaking Shakespeare. It seeks to take the words from the page and put them on the stage. In a number of other subjects, including visual arts, Gaeilge and music, we have a number of other CPD programmes for teachers of junior cycle. Junior cycle teachers also teach senior cycle, so the provision of CPD for them under the arts in junior cycle initiative will also impact at senior cycle. One of the challenges we identified, with which we hope Creative Ireland will help us, is how to work with the senior cycle schools to embed creativity more because the focus moves to the exam process to a greater extent than at primary level.
On DEIS schools, the number included in the programme initiatives are proportionate to the number of DEIS schools. There are about 800 schools in the DEIS programme.
The number of DEIS schools created is more or less proportionate to those numbers. We find when we go around the country that a number of DEIS schools seem to have a level of creativity and artistic projects that are out of proportion to their numbers in that many of the initiatives in DEIS schools are in the artistic space. We work closely with the DEIS schools, their students and teachers to ensure they benefit fully from the Creative Ireland experience.
We will speak later about the evaluation of the Creative Ireland programme and Creative Schools. I must give credit to Ms Tania Banotti. Since she arrived in the Department she has been banging the evaluation drum strongly to ensure that evaluation is built into all the 18 projects under creative youth. As we are in the pilot phase of the project, we want to ensure mechanisms, metrics and indicators are in place to ensure at the end of the pilot phase we will be able to ascertain what worked, what did not work, what might work better and what activities might be able to be mainstreamed. From that evaluation we may also get some findings on the way in which we can focus the initiatives in particular school types such as special schools, DEIS schools and mainstream schools.
Mr. Feargal Ó Coigligh:
All of that has been sanctioned. I do not believe we have added new authority to it or that we are encroaching on anybody's authority. I do not believe the Arts Council would say its decision-making function has been impaired, changed or amended in any sense. We are working together very closely on the creative youth programme in terms of the Creative Schools project, which is very exciting.
I vehemently disagree with a point Mr. Moran made. Unless we give credence to the arts for children from the ages of nine, ten and 11, which we have not done for many years, and then from the ages of 14, 15 and 16, people will not take up the arts. In terms of young people being able to choose, be it a language or a passion for music or for visual arts, the Department should be far more creative and imaginative in how it approaches this. It closed that down in a way and added to the points system when it provided 25 bonus points for mathematics. It does not really matter. If those in the Department had a choice they would possibly choose the arts subject from the junior cycle upwards. Therefore, I completely disagree with Mr. Moran's point.
It is stated that the Creative Ireland programme is an all-Government programme. Where do the representatives see it having an impact through the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment? There is enormous scope for it. I know the Department of Education and Skills is a beautiful and right fit for it and it wants to be the fit but there are other Departments where it can have an impact. I found that out from my own study on dying in Ireland that when we leave the planet, that has an impact on every Department not only the Department of Health. The same would apply to the arts.
Mr. Feargal Ó Coigligh:
Yes, it is much wider. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, which the Senator mentioned, and the Department with responsibility for the local authorities are not represented here today. The Department of the Taoiseach convenes the odd Government meeting from time to time at which all those Departments are represented. We work closely with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection on the initiative that provides for artists to access-----
The programme has not done that yet. I was asking a general question about there being obvious fits. The programme is being allocated a great deal of money for being an all-Government programme, which is right, and it would have an influence on Departments, on the way they do business, communicate or present matters to the public.
Ms Tania Banotti:
That is a challenge. There are very few all-Government initiatives. When I joined the programme, I asked what were the other all-Government initiatives and I was told there were initiatives such as Healthy Ireland, which covers local authorities, libraries, the area of health and other areas, but that there are not many other programmes that are as ambitious as this one. Our work with creative communities means we will be working closely with rural and community development and housing and planning, but less so with other Departments. The challenge for us as a small team is to be effective. That is why it is fantastic Creative Ireland reports straight up to Martin Fraser and there is a senior officials group that involves the Secretaries General of all Departments. This is important when we need other Departments to help us. For example, next year we will be bringing in a number of initiatives in the area of mental health and the arts-----
I congratulate Ms Banotti on her appointment. I welcome our other guests to the committee. A constant theme at this committee, as alluded to by Senator Marie-Louise O’Donnell, has been speculation about the form this programme will take or intends to take. From what I have heard within the arts community, there is concern and scepticism about it. I will begin with the marketing and advertorials. I note that from 2019 Creative Ireland will have a budget of €7.15 million, or is it €9.15 million?
Yes. While I respect and have got my head around the fact that the roles are different between Creative Ireland and our agencies and bodies, it is a significant sum of money that is not going into that space. In the context of a Department that has only so much money, it is very important that it is spent in the right place. That is disappointing. We do not have the figures up to this point for 2018 but I have the 2017 figures on foot of a freedom of information request.
Ms Tania Banotti:
Essentially, no. We have done some videos where we look at the beneficiaries in creative communities. We did a film with the Heritage Council around heritage in schools, but we are not doing the level of media spend that we would have done in previous years. The Deputy can note that in comparison with the details we gave the committee last year.
Culture Ireland was given about €100,000 last week. It was not announced on budget day or the day after. We waited until Friday to get the updated press release that contained an increase for Culture Ireland. This is not a question for Ms Banotti but for the Minister. If Culture Ireland has got an increased allocation of €100,000, €250,000 was spent on advertorials and €150,000 was spent on video or digital costs promoting tweets that were sent last week from the Creative Ireland account commending the increased investment in the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and showing pictures of the Minister, Deputy Madigan, in the Dáil, is the balance right? While I respect the roles are different, is the balance right and have we got our priorities right?
Mr. Feargal Ó Coigligh:
I will speak on the wider picture. The focus is to try to get significant additional moneys into the sector. Earlier this year, the Department launched a €1.2 billion capital development plan for the sector over the next ten years. The Taoiseach, speaking at the launch, stated there is no point in building these buildings unless they become truly national institutions that are able to engage, and that is a big resourcing challenge ahead of us. We are starting that journey in terms of increasing the current allocations. The Arts Council got almost an additional €7 million this year. That is a significant additional boost. As the Senator rightly points out, Creative Ireland received an additional €1 million and is doing very good work in the schools, as we discussed with Mr. Moran and Ms Banotti.
On the Culture Ireland budget, it should be noted that last year there was a particular high-level campaign in Great Britain, the GB18 campaign. Tracing Culture Ireland expenditure back over the years, and it is lower than it was in 2008 no more than many other areas around government, it spikes in particular years. There was a particular Imagine Ireland campaign in America in 2011 where it got additional funding and then it dropped. In 2013, we had the Irish Presidency of the EU, Culture Ireland got a large budget and then it dropped. In 2016, the Ireland 2016 programme had a big international focus and Culture Ireland expenditure peaked and then dropped. Last year, we had a campaign in GB. In 2019, there is no specific campaign. In effect, Culture Ireland held on to all that extra €500,000 it got last year and an additional €100,000. That will begin the journey, in terms of the Culture Ireland part of the Global Ireland 2025 campaign. That is the context in which this must be seen.
I am uncomfortable with the idea, which we have seen with the strategic communications unit, of Government policy being spun back at taxpayers at their own expense and, in this case, at the expense of artists who could have benefited more. I commend the increases across the board. The budget was strong. On the Culture Ireland front, however, certainly the money spent in previous years on advertisements was outrageous. That should be suspended. Is there a social media policy? Is there a content plan for the Creative Ireland accounts, for example, the Twitter account? How does that work? Are there content plans?
Mr. Feargal Ó Coigligh:
In the modern age, especially for young people who do not read newspapers anymore, one must have videos. We must have a presence online.
It is not about us. It is not about the Creative Ireland programme or the team. It is about getting people interested and becoming engaged so that they might watch a show, take part in a local creative activity, promote a local artist and highlight his or her work to the local and national community.
Ms Tania Banotti:
It is at the request of the partnership we have with the local authorities. They believe that much of the work that is being done at their level would not be recognised or as valued, perhaps, as some of the work that happens at national level and that is funded by the Arts Council. If one looks at the eight videos we have done this year on our YouTube channel, the bulk of those are people under the creative communities. They are artists or young people. They are persons who have benefited under pillar 2, which is creative communities. For example, we did one to celebrate Culture Night where a poet, Mr. Stephen James Smith, who had worked with one of our local authorities, wrote and performed a poem for Culture Night.
Most of the videos are at the request of partners such as the Heritage Council. The Heritage Council has a super heritage in schools programme, but it would not traditionally have had the funds to shoot a film to promote it. Under the Minister, Deputy Madigan, an additional 650 schools will get the heritage in schools programme next year and they need to promote that. With Creative Ireland, we were able to step in and help the Heritage Council by making a short film on what the heritage in schools programme looks like and why more schools should avail of it. That is a legitimate use of the programme.
Last week, there were promoted tweets around the budget. One tweet was, "Government makes good on its commitment to invest in #creativity #arts #culture under the Creative Ireland Programme with welcome increases to our colleagues". Fine Gael will be delighted with that.
I thank all the witnesses for their presentations today. There has been much discussion around the involvement of schools. My first question relates to the Creative Ireland programme which runs from 2017 to 2022. It is encouraging for all of us that we are trying to involve young people. Participation within schools is positive. The witnesses mentioned the pilot scheme in which 150 schools are participating and the access to extra resources that they will have. I am quite encouraged by the questions that were asked about evaluation. This is a short-term programme. How do we see the evaluation being used to ensure that everybody gets access in terms of inspiring their creativity? That is in conjunction with the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. I am concerned that while a pilot project is good, we need a longer-term and more tangible vision for arts within schools.
On the budget for 2018, much work has been done by Creative Ireland in Roscommon, particularly with libraries. There is much more communication and participation within the arts centre in Roscommon which is positive. It goes back to the word "evaluation". A sum of €2 million was given to local authorities in the 2018 budget. How is that being evaluated? I am aware this is embedded within strategies but strategies do not give us evidence that work has taken place to support people across a particular county or local authority area. How is that €2 million being evaluated to ensure that there is value for money - I do not even mean it in that context - and that it reaches out to as wide a group of people as possible within a particular local authority?
Ms Tania Banotti:
I might ask Mr. Moran to address the evaluation of the schools and the roll-out. I draw the Senator's attention to pages 9 and 10 of our submission to the committee which refer to evaluation for all of the creative youth pillar. We have been putting flesh on the bones of the Creative Ireland programme this year.
There are three different ways in which we measure, evaluate and track what is happening under pillar 2, creative communities. For the first time in the history of local authorities, apparently, we have been bringing the Creative Ireland co-ordinator and all the culture teams together four to five times a year. That is the first point. People are brought together to share good practice, for example, somebody tried something in this local authority, how that worked etc. There is the human side of it. There is also a specific online portal. I draw the Senator's attention to our submission again. This is the reason we gave such a detailed document to the committee.
Appendix 1 shows how we track the creative communities fund. We can track it geographically, by audience numbers, by art form and by pillar. There is more detailed evaluation of this than many other programmes and no money can be drawn down unless there are invoices from the local authority. In addition to that, we fan out to the local authorities as a team. We meet the city and county managers and the culture and creative teams. I have only been in the post for four months so I have not managed to get to every local authority yet. There are face-to-face meetings, the online portal, the financial measurement and we go out to each local authority to meet teams and share good practice.
Mr. Eamonn Moran:
I will address what will happen after the Creative Ireland programme and how we ensure that all schools, or as many as possible, can benefit from the lessons from Creative Ireland. We are conscious that the Creative Schools phase 1 pilot scheme is only for 150 schools. The aim is to double that number of schools and, as the project moves on, to increase those numbers. We know that increasing the numbers by 150 schools a year will not get to the 4,000 schools. It was never the intention. The idea was that, when we evaluated how successful or otherwise the Creative Schools project was, we would identify successful elements of that programme with a view to allowing schools in general to mainstream those activities. There would be a lot of learning from the initial actions and we would envisage that after Creative Ireland, they would be packaged into a programme that more schools could readily access that would not need the scaffolding and structures put in place by Creative Ireland that are necessary to facilitate this trialling of a number of initiatives. Approximately 74 schools are taking part in the creative clusters programme. We are at approximately 225 to 230 schools.
We are conscious that we do not want to wait until Creative Ireland is over to spread the word to other schools. Ms Banotti mentioned the portal set up under Creative Ireland. Under the Arts in Education Charter, which was launched by the Ministers with responsibility for arts and education in 2013 and which pre-dated Creative Ireland, a number of initiatives were put in place or identified as worth pursuing to allow schools to embrace and enhance arts in education. Some of those initiatives are finding form and substance in Creative Ireland. The genesis for the Creative Schools programme was the arts-rich schools programme, Arís, proposed in the charter. I would not have any concern that, at the end of Creative Ireland in 2022 or 2023, everything will fall flat in that the charter is already there. The Creative Ireland programme recently put in place an advisory group of experts across a number of Departments and the arts and creativity fields in general to advise the high-level steering group on the creative youth pillar as to the success of the implementation of its actions and, critically, to look at Creative Ireland and Creative Youth after 2022. They had a successful meeting last week which Ms Banotti was at where they looked at the issue of defining creativity. One of the aims of the project is to ensure that it will have a life after the Creative Ireland programme.
Ms Tania Banotti:
We are thrilled that Professor Ciarán Benson, who wrote the first report 40 years ago for the Arts Council about arts in schools, is chairing that committee. We have people from the inspectorate in the Department of Education and Skills. I am surprised to hear what the Senator says. We hear quite the opposite from the Arts Council. It says that since Creative Ireland has arrived, it has never had such close contact with the Department of Education and Skills in developing this initiative. That is where I think the benefit of this is. We will be gone in five years but the Department of-----
Ms Tania Banotti:
We are trialling many things at the moment and looking at what we can put out to 4,000 schools. We are very conscious of the Government commitment that this is for every child and the only way to reach every child is through 4,000 schools. We will not be able to start with 4,000 schools at the start, but to work in 300 schools is light years away from what happened before Creative Ireland arrived.
We thank the witnesses for coming here today. It has been very helpful for us. There are questions and debates to be had and policy decisions to be made. We wish the witnesses luck in the work that they have in front of them and look forward to having them in again at some stage.
I ask that the witnesses keep in communication with us because that is something that falls apart. Will they let us know about interesting projects which are being done through the auspices of Creative Ireland in schools or such? We will go as an audience or to see the work the witnesses are doing. It often becomes non-physical when we are not there.