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. 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. 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 public funding and traditional music is supported extensively by the Council through a range of schemes and initiatives.
Cultural houses and community cultural clubs
There are no centres that meet this description in Ireland. The Arts Council and local government fund a network of arts centres. The extensive Irish library network – with over 300 service points – constitutes an important cultural resource and hosts a range of cultural events. In the domain of traditional music, Comhalthas Ceoltoiri Eireann has hundreds of local branches which are dedicated to the preservation and promotion of traditional Irish music.