Up to recently, the main change since 2002 had been in respect of international arts, now overseen by Culture Ireland (created in 2005). However from being an independent body this has now become an arm of the Department of Arts (DAHG) to the widespread dismay of the arts sector.
For reasons which are primarily economic a move towards centralisation of public cultural institutions is clear. Despite the National Library having shown full willingness to engage with other bodies – the National Archives, The Manuscripts Commission and the National Museum) in any cost saving initiatives put forward by government, there is also a clear wish by the DAHG to unroll the decentralisation of recent years and to bring national cultural institutions back within the ambit and control of the DAHG. The Chairman of the National Museum has protested at this trend, describing the Department’s move as a “power grab” (Sunday Times, 4 November 2012). The parlous state of these public institutions is now the subject of commonplace commentary.
On a territorial level the increasing involvement of local government in the arts is severely constrained by the limited funds of local authorities.