The Arts Council offers support to emerging and professional musicians through awards and bursaries such as music project awards, music commission awards, professional development awards, beyond borders awards, arts grants, next generation awards, music bursary awards, music recording schemes, and touring and dissemination of work schemes.
The music funded by the Council includes, traditional folk music, jazz, contemporary classical, classical and opera. The popular music industry is not supported by the national government or by the Arts Council through any specific music schemes. A business expansion scheme for music exists, but the sector has made very little use of it. Local authority arts offices also offer funding for musicians that live or work within the location of the authority.
Music Generation is Ireland’s National Performance Music Education Programme, initiated in 2010 by Music Network. The main demographic focus of their programmes is children and young people under the age of 18. The initiative aims to provide what was missing in music education, i.e. performance music education, and to complement the music curriculum in mainstream education. The catalyst for finally setting up such an infrastructure was a philanthropic donation of EUR 7 million from the band U2 and The Ireland Funds. There are many reports spanning 30 years that highlighted the need for an initiative such as this. These include Deaf Ears? (Heron, 1985), The PIANO Report (PIANO Review Group, 1996), The MEND Report (Heneghan, 2001) and A National System of Local Music Education Services, a report completed by Music Network in 2003 which included piloted projects in two areas of the country, Donegal and Dublin City.
Music Generation works in partnership with national and local partners across the education sector, arts sector and local government. The contexts within which it works include educational, community and arts settings, as well as within probation services, direct provision centres, festivals and innovative and alternative venues. Music Generation programmes cover many genres and include individual music-making and many types of vocal and instrumental ensembles.
The music industry has received funding for the first time from government in 2020 in response to the effect of COVID-19 restrictions on live music events.