The main legislative support for performance and celebration in Ireland (including theatre, dance, opera, music theatre, music, circus, street arts, festivals) is provided by the Arts Act (1951-2003), which established the Arts Council as the national agency for support of the arts.
As the National Tourism Development Authority, Fáilte Ireland supports festivals through funding, for the purpose of increasing the quality of the visitor experience within the tourism industry. The authority was established under the National Tourism Development Act (2003).
The interpretation of legislation related to crowd control has affected the festival sector. The crowd control law in Ireland is designed to focus on either preventing or controlling meetings that are calculated or designed to cause a riot or breach of the peace. The purpose of crowd control at public events such as festivals is to maintain public peace and order, and to ensure the safety of all who are gathered there. Part III of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act (1994) is the main legislation in place designed to give the Gardaí (Irish police force) comprehensive legal powers to deal with crowd control. The festival organiser is responsible for the cost of policing their event, but the number of Gardaí (police) required is decided by the local Gardaí. The fluctuating cost of paying for a police presence has rendered some festivals cost prohibitive.
Festivals and performances are required to abide by existing laws regarding the serving and sale of alcohol and health and safety, as set out in the Intoxicating Liquor Act (2008) and the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act (1989). The document Safety at Outdoor Pop Concerts and Other Outdoor Music Events (1997) provides comprehensive guidelines on safety for promoters. Organisers must apply for an outdoor event licence to hold an event, comprising of public entertainment in accordance with part XVI of the Planning and Development Act (2000). Applications are processed through the local authority planning office.
Copyright legislation affects festivals in which there are performances of creator’s works. The artist is entitled to a royalty payment for the use of their creative works. While for the most part copyright legislation imposes economic restrictions on promoters, it also offers some sustained income for artists. The legislation also creates many cultural limitations. The Copyright and Related Rights (Amendment) Act (2004) clarifies that a person could place literary and artistic works on public exhibition, without breaching the copyright vested in such cultural texts. However, the ad hoc legislation is inadequate against the protective will of many artists’ estates. Many artists estates are extremely protective which inhibits the use of visual references to such works within academic studies. There is potential for the defense of ‘fair use’ to be expanded to allow for the transformative use of copyright works, particularly in respect of adaptations and derived works by visual artists. However, there has been limited legal testing of such defenses to date.