The majority of public cultural expenditure in Ireland comes from the national government and local governments. Local government expenditure has increased in proportion to national government expenditure, but this is more likely related to the stagnation of national level expenditure. Central government expenditure on culture peaked in 2007/2008, but — similar to other areas of public expenditure — declined during each year of the economic recession up until 2013. For example, Arts Council funding allocation peaked in 2008 at EUR 83 million, fell to EUR 56.7 million in 2013 and rose again very marginally every year to EUR 68 million in 2018. Total public culture expenditure per capita is difficult to quantify given the availability of data: Not since 1997 has such data been compiled or made publicly available. Government funding allocation for culture improved slightly in the 2020 budget allocation and was then supplemented mid year to reflect changed circumstances for the sector under COVID-19 restrictions. The government’s 2021 budget allocation reflected how COVID-19 had adversely impacted the sector and increased substantially. The total culture allocation for 2021 has increased by 70% compared to the previous year.
According to Eurostat, 1% of general government expenditure was spent on cultural services in the EU-28 in 2019. In Ireland, the figure is much lower at a mere 0.8% of GDP. Ireland does however fare better in comparison with other EU-28 countries when we look at general government expenditure devoted to broadcasting and publishing services at 0.8% compared to 0.4% in the EU-28. Irish Government expenditure on broadcasting and publishing services increased marginally from 0.7 to 0.8% (2013-2018).
In the period 2009-2013, the evolution of per capita public expenditure on culture has been negative, as a result of the economic crisis, which has affected cultural budgets on all levels of government. Overall, the expenditure decreased in nominal terms by 30%.