Thursday, 6 December 2007
Tony Killeen (Clare, Fianna Fail)
Go raibh maith agat, a Chathaoirligh. Gabhaim buíochas leis an Seanadóir.
Government policy on the arts is set out in the programme for Government and will be elaborated further in the Department's statement of strategy 2008-2010 which is being developed. The Government's objective is to encourage and support the strategic development of the arts in local communities, both geographic and communities of interest, for the disadvantaged and for minority groups.
The Government's objective is to support national economic and societal progress by enriching the quality of life of the people of Ireland by facilitating the promotion and sustainable development of the arts and culture. To accomplish this the Government seeks to create an environment that enables arts and culture, including the cultural institutions, to flourish through the provision of an appropriate legislative, policy and resource framework.
The Department has received numerous requests over the past year from pipe and brass bands and music schools seeking small amounts of funding to purchase musical instruments. The Minister consequently proposed a Supplementary Estimate for the Arts Council, which was approved by the select committee last Tuesday. This includes funds for a community music programme. This will be a pilot programme to be run by the Arts Council. The scheme will be aimed at providing funding for musical instruments, etc. to bands and music schools throughout the country and will be open to all bands, including marching bands. The scheme will provide much needed support for local community music groups for whom no formal funding programme exists. The council has estimated that the cost of the pilot scheme will be €250,000.
The Department, in addition, has taken a direct role in providing grant aid to the arts and culture infrastructure and has provided substantial funding for the capital development of facilities in all regions in recent years, having regard to factors such as sustainability and community requirements.
The main vehicle for such capital funding is the arts and culture capital enhancement support scheme, ACCESS, under which more than €75 million has been granted to 107 arts and cultural facilities to date since the scheme commenced in 2001. The ACCESS scheme is a key element in the Government's regional arts strategy and has improved greatly participation in the arts for large numbers of people nationwide. The scheme has been widely acknowledged as a significant intervention in the provision of quality cultural spaces.
When applications for funding under the next round of the ACCESS scheme are invited through advertisements in the national newspapers it will be open to any group, including marching bands, to apply should they have a project that complies with the terms of the programme.