The main approach of the Irish Government to support artists and creative workers has been a system of grants to directly support the practice of artists. These grants are administered at arm’s length by semi state agencies such as the Arts Council, Screen Ireland and Culture Ireland. The national strategy is also supported at local authority arts offices level with a supplementary system of arts grants guided by both national and local arts strategies. Given the continued precarity of artists and creative workers despite the intentions of the existing support system, there has been a recent additional support scheme introduced within the social welfare system that has been specifically designed for artists. Introduced in 2019, this scheme allows artists to avail of social welfare payments without the requirement to seek employment outside of the arts.
The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media’s Creative Ireland Programme (2017-2022) provides the overarching framework for semi state agencies and local authorities to support artist and creative workers in Ireland. The programme aims to facilitate an ecosystem of creativity enabled by collaboration between central and local government, culture and industry, and artists and policy makers. The programme leans support towards artists engaged in work that enables community and youth participation in culture. The audiovisual sector is the only area defined within the programme with a focus on developing artistic excellence.
The Arts Council is the main support agency for artists in Ireland providing a system of grants to support artists practice. The Council’s strategy for the period 2016-2025 (Making Great Art Work: Leading the Development of the Arts in Ireland) affirms the Council’s commitment to the value of artistic excellence. The strategy prioritises the artist to make excellent work that is enjoyed and valued through public engagement of high quality arts experiences. Artists can avail of individual grants or project grants through open call submission process.
Screen Ireland supports creative workers in film, animation and television through a system of grants. Individual writers, directors or producers can avail of grants or investments to support their creative work. Screen Ireland’s programme of grants is guided by its current strategic plan 2016-2020 entitled Building on Success (2015). Pillar one of the strategic plan supports amongst other things greater gender equality for film, television and animation creative workers. The second pillar supports creative screen production, the development of talent and skills and inward production and investment.
Culture Ireland supports Irish artists to work internationally through its strategy 2017-2020. Key priorities of the strategy include: supporting Irish artists and arts organisations in all their diversity for the presentation of their work internationally; developing diverse international markets for Irish arts; encouraging Irish artists to collaborate with global partners and support the presentation of collaborative work.
At a local authority level, a system of small grants to support artists living or working locally is guided by Local Authority Cultural and Creativity Strategies (2018-2022) in 31 local authorities in Ireland. These locally tailored strategies were developed to support the creative life of the local communities. The strategies are broadly in line with the national Creative Ireland Programme (2017-2022). They focus on expanding collaborations between people, artists and arts and cultural organisations within communities, demonstrating the evolving nature of the Creative Ireland Programme and its priorities.