Arts Council Funding 2018

March/April 2018

Una MacConville analyses the latest allocations

















The changes in Arts Council funding, having commenced last year after publication of the Making Great Art Work: leading the development of the arts in Ireland, Arts Council Strategy (2016–25) and Making Great Art Work: three-year plan 2017–19, continue in 2018.

This three-year plan marks a significant change for the Arts Council, as it outlines a model of strategic investment, which, they state, responds to the changing nature of artistic practice and engagement with the arts in Ireland. It also outlines the initial sequence in which the Arts Council will review and enact new models of investment in the work of artists and arts organisations; develop partnerships both within and outside the arts sector to build greater public engagement with the arts; measure the effects of investment and develop the Arts Council’s capacity to support and renew the arts sector.

This all sounds very good, but what does it really mean for publishers who invest considerable time and resources in books with significant cultural value? Much of this investment—editing, designing, producing, distributing, publicising and marketing, keeping books available so long as demand exists and depositing copies in copyright libraries—is largely invisible, or only visible in its absence. As President Higgins said at the announcement of the new Literature Laureate Sebastian Barry, ‘A book is not just a commodity; it’s time to get real about the importance of book publishing, book distribution and bookselling’.

There is no doubt that other forms of cultural activity, such as the performance arts, have high production costs, recognised by the level of funding and the range of funding programmes available for them. For example, in the new Strategic Funding Programme, which replaces the previous Annual Funding Programme, Opera, Dance and Music account for over 38% of the budget allocation of €2,390,230. Add Visual Arts to this and it brings this total with the Strategic Funding Programme alone to over 50% and this is only one of other funding streams that are available for these cultural forms—Projects; Opera Projects and Productions; Touring and Dissemination of Work scheme, amongst many others, are available over the course of the year.

With the new Strategic Funding Programme replacing the Annual Funding Scheme, Literature has received a 0.5% increase from last year, bringing this to a glorious 6.53% of the total allocation and distributed across Poetry (34%); Organisations/Centres (23%); Publishers (22%); Festivals (12%); and Irish language (9%).

Other funding for publishers and literary-related organisations lies in the Title by Title Scheme, which allows publishers to apply for funding toward specific titles, including print and online journals. Books Ireland is delighted to have received €25,000 under the Title by Title Scheme. The Title by Title funding was reduced, however, from €280,000 in 2017 to €199,775 for 2018 (26 applications were submitted and fourteen were successful).

The combined funding allocation for Literature in 2018 to date, between the Strategic Funding Scheme and Title by Title, is a mere €61,275 increase on the combined funding from these two schemes last year. The Title by Title Scheme has now been discontinued and a new scheme, Arts Grants Funding, replaces it (closing date 8 March). While any extra funding must be welcomed, there is a danger that Literature, already a small fish in a small funding pond, will simply be swimming around in an even bigger pond and in even more danger of being swallowed up by the larger fish.




























Una MacConville

First published in Books Ireland magazine, March/April 2018 (Issue no. 378)

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The Doctor Who Sat for a Year

By Brendan Kelly

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The Doctor Who Sat for a Year
By Brendan Kelly
ISBN: 978-0-7171-8457-6
Publisher: Gill Books



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