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All children to have access to music lessons under ambitious new Irish culture plan

The plan is built around five pillars and will involve communities, schools, and arts stakeholders.

Source: Creative Ireland/YouTube

A NEW, AMBITIOUS plan to boost Ireland’s cultural creativity has been launched today by the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.

Under the plan, Irish schoolchildren will have access to music tuition, communities will come together to create cultural plans, and Ireland’s ‘global reputation’ will be unified as it becomes a “global hub” for film and TV production.

The Creative Ireland programme was launched by Kenny and Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe at the National Gallery of Ireland this morning.

Creative Ireland, which is being described as the Government’s legacy programme for Ireland 2016, is a five-year initiative running from 2017 – 2022.

The programme comes in the wake of the huge 1916 centenary programme this year, which involved thousands of events taking place across Ireland.

The plan is built around five pillars:

  • Enabling the creative potential of every child
  • Enabling creativity in every community
  • Investing in our creative and cultural infrastructure
  • Ireland as a centre of excellence in media production
  • Unifying our global reputation

There are a number of key initiatives due to be delivered in 2017, including:

  • The publication of a five-year Creative Children plan which will enable every child to access tuition in music, drama, art and coding
  • Each Local Authority will appoint a Culture Team to drive local needs and will publish a Culture Plan for their own county
  • A new annual cultural day, Cruinniú na Cásca to be held nationwide on Easter Monday each year, replicating the very successful Reflecting the Rising event, which was held in Dublin this year

The Departments of Arts and Social Protection will also devise a mechanism, under a pilot scheme, to assist self-employed artists who have applied for Jobseekers Allowance.

Under Creative Ireland, an annual County of Culture will be named each year from 2018.

Due next year is a planned investment programme for Ireland’s cultural and heritage infrastructure, including our national cultural institutions.

Finally, in the wake of successes like Star Wars and Room, there are plans for an industry-wide, long-term plan “to develop Ireland as a global hub for film, TV drama and animation”.

“Together we can do extraordinary things”

. Children play music for th File: Children from St Agnes Community Centre for Music and Arts in Crumlin perform for Sabina Higgins and the board of management. Source: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Speaking at today’s event, An Taoiseach described Creative Ireland as being “about placing culture at the centre of our lives, for the betterment of our people and for the strengthening of our society”.

Together we can do extraordinary things: we can make Ireland the first country in the world to guarantee access for every child to tuition and participation in art, music, drama and coding. We can make every local authority a dynamic hub of cultural creativity. We can unlock the huge potential of our people in the creative industries. And we can make an important statement to ourselves and to the world about the interdependency of culture, identity and citizenship.

Minister Humphreys TD said that Creative Ireland was inspired by the “extraordinary” public response to the Centenary Programme.

Thousands of events were held around Ireland as part of this programme, and Humphreys said the government wants to build on this.

“We now want to build on the success of the commemorations and plan ambitiously for our arts and culture sectors for the years ahead,” she said. “Creative Ireland will ensure that children can participate in the arts from an early age, and it will drive cultural engagement in every county nationwide.”

She described it as a “very ambitious” public policy initiative – “possibly the most significant for the arts and cultural sectors in a generation”.

“The Government recognises that high quality infrastructure is critical for a vibrant arts and culture sector and that such investment underpins social cohesion and supports strong and sustainable economic growth,” added Minister Donohoe TD.

It’s understood that the plan to enable all Irish school children to access tuition and participation in art, music, drama and coding will begin in September 2017. The plan will also see the Charter for Arts in Education being fast-tracked and resourced.

Cruinniú na Cásca, an annual programme of arts activities and cultural reflection, will be held on Easter Monday, starting in 2017.

Investment programmes in the National Gallery, National Library, National Archives and National Concert Hall are already underway, and the Department of Arts is set to work with cultural institutions and key stakeholders to prepare investment plans to address infrastructure needs. The plan is to develop an overall capital strategy for the cultural and heritage sector, which would include digitisation projects and the building of national cultural collections.

Creative Ireland will develop a platform for a major initiative in the media production sector – involving the Irish Folm Board, RTÉ, the independent production sector, third-level institutions and other stakeholders – to “position and enable Ireland to be a leading international centre” for media production.

Finally, the fifth pillar – unifying Ireland’s global reputation – is described as “particularly important” in the wake of Brexit. Under this, the website Ireland.ie will be used as a “national website for Ireland”.

Creative Ireland will “will create a communications programme based on an authentic representation of Irish culture and creativity, representing Ireland as a great place in which to live, in which to invest, to visit and in which to study”.

“Investment boost” needed

The National Campaign for the Arts (NCFA), which was established in 2009, welcomed the Creative Ireland initiative, saying it is hopeful that it will mark “a sea change in national arts and cultural policy”, but cautioned that it must be matched by a long-term investment boost.

It said the proposed social protection changes “offer a longer overdue safety net for self-employed artists”.

The NCFA met with Minister Humphreys and the Ireland 2016 team to advocate for a number of key principles and proposals related to the initiative.

NCFA Chairperson Jo Mangan said:

If transformational investment is delivered in the coming years as a result of this ambitious Government initiative, Ireland will finally be able to consign to history its unenviable position at the bottom of the EU league in terms of average GDP spending on arts and culture. We have the chance now to tap fully into our most extraordinary natural resource – our innate creativity – for the lasting benefit of all our citizens.

Read: Thousands sign petition calling for Ardmore Studios to be saved>

Read: ’It’s cultural vandalism’: TDs and Senators criticise Arts cuts in the Budget>

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