Aosdána, established in 1981 by the Arts Council, is an honorary association of peer-nominated outstanding creative artists in Ireland, the aim of which is to encourage and assist members to devote their energies fully to art. Members are eligible for a Cnuas (EUR 17 180 in 2014) or annuity (means-tested) payable for a period of five years and renewable thereafter. One hundred and fifty artists benefit currently from the Cnuas. The programme is administered by the Arts Council. Aosdána also runs a contributory pension scheme. There has been significant criticism of Aosdana in recent times on the grounds that it is élite, too large and lacking in accountability. It costs EUR 2.7 million to run Aosdána annually.
In addition, the Arts Council runs a programme of direct support through awards, bursaries and schemes for all categories of individual artists. These schemes are comprehensively described on the Arts Council website and include trust funds, travel and mobility grants, project and collaborative schemes, studio grants, professional development and training programmes, purchasing programmes, commissions, residencies, artists-in-community schemes as well as a programme of grants relating to literature, theatre, music, dance, the visual arts, architecture, film, video and animation. Detail on funding allocated by the Council is routinely published on the Arts Council website. Arts Council funding to arts organisations allows these to provide employment opportunities and other supports to artists including information, advice, training, networking, marketing, dissemination and advocacy. The Council is moving towards a system of general awards and in so doing is broadening its eligibility criteria, allowing for greater flexibility in the form of new art practices, art form combinations and artistic collaborations. A new three year Laureateship for Irish fiction from the Arts Council and UCD worth EUR 150 000 was announced in December 2013.
Library compensation, public lending rights and levies on audiovisual products do not operate in Ireland.