Support the Arts

Our policy on the arts is a continuation of our policy of evidence-based decision making. For too long, successive governments have largely ignored the Arts as an afterthought, a peripheral concern to which little time, money or creative thought should be devoted. A 55% cut in arts funding since 2008 typifies this mind-set.

Here, we recognise the importance of the Arts as:

  • A binding agent in our communities both rural and urban, an important forum for the formation of our national identity and for holding our democracy to account and an indispensable resource for the effective functioning of our society as a whole.
  • Key to our continued success in attracting foreign direct investment and especially as we move towards changing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) into STEAM in the “smart” economy and an expanding technology sector.
  • A potential cornerstone of a stronger, more equal economic recovery.
  • A central component in our current and future success in the all-important tourism sector. 87% of overseas visitors listed Ireland’s “Interesting history and culture” as key to their decision to visit Ireland in 2014.
  • Key to the success of the Irish film industry, with further potential for the growth of film studios.


Success for the arts in Ireland will be dependent on the level of joined-up thinking and collaboration across government departments, state bodies and arts organisations/practitioners. Post review, liaison between the department for the arts and communications and the departments of social welfare, tourism and education will be of particular importance.


Before any investment or restructuring is done, a full review of arts funding and administration as well as consultation with stakeholders across the arts sector on the successes and failures of our current system is required. This review would incorporate research into equality in the arts sector, the life of artists in Ireland today, funding practices and administrative processes as well as the relationship and need for enhanced collaboration between the arts and areas such as education, tourism and the social welfare system.


  • Formation of a new advisory body of arts practitioners and administrators to reflect the importance of a “bottom up” approach to decision-making and policy formation which includes input from the entire arts sector.
  • Establishment of a new Department for the Arts, Culture and Communications tasked with using its cross-sectoral competencies to foster and platform new Irish creative talent across traditional and digital media. Engendering symbiosis between the state broadcaster and the creative sector is a key concern of this initiative.
  • Establishing a digital broadcasting unit within RTÉ tasked with delivering Irish film, television and arts programming to a wider domestic and international audience.


  • Progressive restoration of total arts funding to pre-crash levels.
  • Establishment of special commercial rates for creative/arts spaces as well as “rates holidays” for new projects.
  • Reconvene the expert group to recommend a solution to the barrier of the commercial rates regime, as applied to film studios
  • Expansion of tax break for lower income artists to include a wider range of arts practitioners beyond the current narrow limitations.
  • New program of grants, bursaries and other investments in working artists via the social welfare system to allow time for skill development and work on large projects.


  • Enhanced investment in arts education in recognition of its unique, proven ability to raise performance standards across the board and improve dropout rates and engagement with education for disadvantaged students in particular. The aim over the lifetime of the next government, would be universal access to arts education at both primary and secondary levels.


  • It is no longer good enough that diversity of all kinds is not a default concern of arts programming and administration in this state. The Social Democrats wholeheartedly support the Waking the Feminists movement and are committed to ensuring that state-funded arts organisations and programs lead the way in advancing equality and diversity in Irish society.

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