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Tuesday 28 November 2023 Dublin: 5°C

Government to invest an "unprecedented" €1.2 billion in culture, language and heritage

The move is as part of the Ireland 2040 plan.

Creative Ireland / YouTube

THE GOVERNMENT IS to invest an “unprecedented” €1.2 billion in the culture, heritage and language infrastructure of Ireland as part of its Project Ireland 2040.

The announcement was made today at the National Gallery of Ireland (NGI), which is one of the national cultural institutions which will benefit from a funding injection of an overall €460 million as part of the plan. The NGI will see further phases of its masterplan redevelopment funded from this €460 million.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and Minister of State for the Irish Language, Joe McHugh were all on hand to launch the plan in the beautiful surroundings of the NGI’s Shaw room.

While the Project 2040 plan had come under criticism due to the nature of how it was initially advertised, there was no mention of any hiccups during the launch. The Ministers focused on the fact they believe this plan is “unprecedented” in its scale and will provide a much-needed funding boost to many of Ireland’s cultural institutions, as well as the country’s heritage and language.

2040 2 Aoife Barry Aoife Barry

The Taoiseach told the assembled crowd that “our culture is who we are”, describing this element of Ireland 2040 as “innovative and ambitious”. He said that culture drives tourism and creates jobs, and fosters creativity. We have a “unique culture as Irish people” he said. Varadkar also noted that this plan builds on the previous Creative Ireland plan.

He emphasised that the scope of the plan takes in all parts of the country, and added “there is a misconception that heritage is all about the past”.

Minister Madigan praised the Taoiseach for his support of the culture plan, while Donohoe said the investment is a “statement of ambition and a statement of hope in the transformative effect investment in the arts can have”.

Deputy McHugh emphasised the importance of the Irish language in his speech, and encouraged people to speak Irish – no matter how little they have – where and when they can.


IMG_1071 Aoife Barry Aoife Barry

Here’s what this €1.2bn plan includes:

  • €460 million for our National Cultural Institutions.
  • €265 million for cultural and creativity investment programme.
  • €285 million for natural and built heritage.
  • €178 million for the Gaeltacht, the Irish language and the Islands.

The priority projects under the national cultural institutions investment programme of €460 million are:

  • National Library of Ireland renovation
  • National Archives of Ireland renovation
  • National Museum of Ireland masterplan redevelopment
  • National Concert Hall renovation
  • Crawford Art Gallery redevelopment
  • National Theatre redevelopment
  • Irish Museum of Modern Art renovation
  • National Gallery of Ireland – further phases of the masterplan redevelopment
  • Chester Beatty Library improvements.

The plan says that a cultural and creativity investment programme comprising €265 million “will be closely aligned with the cultural infrastructure, creative communities and creative industries pillars of the Creative Ireland Programme”.

  • €200 million will be invested in media production and audio visual industries
  • A €40 million programme of investing in cultural infrastructure across all regions will see support for the maintenance and development of regional arts centres, theatres, regional museums, galleries, archives, multi-use facilities, artist studios etc
  • A €10 million national digitisation investment programme will see national collections digitised over the course of the plan supporting the conservation, preservation and dissemination of the national collections
  • Galway as EU Capital of Culture will receive €15 million funding for its cultural programme.

Under the €285m heritage programme, there will be a €50 million programme of investment for national parks and reserves right across the country.

It will also see an investment of €85 million in historic environment. This will include initiatives to revitalise the historic cores of urban centres, restoration of the Ulster Canal and inland waterways, maintain and protect heritage assets like Valentia Island Cable Station, and investments to improve public access to and restoring historic buildings to use.

There will be an investment programme of €60 million in our national built heritage.

Investments in protecting and conserving built heritage including National Monuments through the Built Heritage Investment Scheme and Historic Structures Fund will be delivered under this strand.

Priority projects under the €178m plan for investing in the Gaeltacht, the Irish language and the islands are:

  • €33 million investment in actions to support the Gaeltacht language planning process
  • €105 million investment in Gaeltacht areas through Údarás na Gaeltachta. This will include an increase in Údarás na Gaeltachta’s annual Exchequer capital allocation to €12 million, creating 1,000 jobs annually and facilitating the upgrade of Údarás na Gaeltachta’s property portfolio
  • €13 million to support Irish Language Networks and Gaeltacht Service Towns through the development of language and culture hubs across the country with a flagship centre to support Irish language speakers in Dublin
  • €27 million to improve marine infrastructure for Inis Oírr, Inis Meáin and Oileán Thoraí.

You can read more in the full programme, which is available here.

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