An Arts and Civil Society symposium examined how arts and culture can be reaffirmed at the heart of civic engagement.
8.4.1 Amateur arts and folk culture
In 2006, Voluntary Arts Ireland, which promotes participation in the arts across Northern Ireland and the Republic published research which points to some 3 800 voluntary arts groups engaging 4 000 FTEs per annum with an expenditure of c. EUR 38 million. The report outlines the issues for such voluntary groups, which include building participation and audiences, retaining volunteers and sustaining and developing art quality. Voluntary Arts Ireland is engaged in civil action, volunteerism and the pursuit of community cohesion and inclusion. CREATE, the national development agency for collaborative arts in social and community contexts, undertakes partnerships to further its agenda – arts and health, cultural diversity and the arts and older people. Both organisations hosted an Arts and Civil Society symposium (October 2011) to discuss the current and future relationship of arts and civil society in a time of crisis as well as the ifs and buts of how art fits with a market led art / cultural tourism model and how arts and culture can be reaffirmed at the heart of civic engagement. In recent years, there has been a significant investment of public funds by the Department of Arts (through the ACCESS scheme) in the creation of local arts infrastructure throughout Ireland. Of the 44 capital projects to receive grant aid between 2001 and 2004, 17 are community-based projects. EUR 42 million has been expended on 80 ACCESS II projects (see chapter 3.3) to date. Similarly, voluntary and amateur activity has led to the growth of arts festivals and the demand for arts officers and arts planning at the local level. This infrastructure and the investment of local government in arts and culture constitutes the main public support for voluntary and amateur arts activity from the public purse and is crucial to local arts provision. Generally the framework of support for amateur arts is based on a partnership approach: between the Arts Council and local authorities, the National Youth Council and Udarás na Gaeltachta.
The National Folk Theatre, Siamsa Tíre receives Arts Council support and traditional music is supported extensively by the Council through a range of schemes and initiatives.