Archive for July 17th, 2009

Bleak Outlook for Arts in Ireland

17th July 2009 by Maura McHugh

IFTN reports on the Irish Government’s proposals to save money in the coming year.

It plans to gut another €6.1 million from the budget of the Arts Council, transfer the Irish Film Board’s functions to a new enterprise agency under the auspices of Enterprise Ireland, and discontinue the investment fund.

The Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes, Volume 2, states:

“The Group considers that continued funding of the Irish Film Board is not affordable at this time in the context of other more pressing spending priorities. Given the scale of tax expenditure (€418m since 1993 and €33m in 2008) via the tax incentive scheme for this sector, and given the level of international competition in this market space, there is no objective economic case for subventing the Irish Film Industry. The Group considers that film development is similar to enterprise development activities in other sectors (e.g. manufacturing, services, tourism etc). It concludes that the enterprise promotion and development activities of the Irish Film Board should be transferred to the new enterprise agency (see Detailed Paper No. 5) which incorporates a restructured Enterprise Ireland and the enterprise development functions of a range of other existing agencies. The Group also recommends discontinuation of the dedicated investment fund. Overall, these proposals should lead to a staff reduction of about 17 positions.”

Other cost-cutting proposals include:

  • “The merger of ComReg with the new Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (the result of merging the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission and the regulatory functions of the RTÉ Authority) because of the growing convergence between the communications and broadcasting industries.”
  • The report notes that the new Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) will be funded by an industry levy which will save the Exchequer over €6m each year compared to the existing arrangement.
  • Reforming the funding of TG4 by partially funding it directly from the TV Licence with reciprocal savings in the Exchequer subvention to TG4.
  • The Group does not recommend an increase in the TV Licence.
  • Merging the Digital Hub Agency with EI/IDA.
  • Abolishing Culture Ireland generating a saving of €4.6m. This programme allocates grants for overseas activity to Irish artists or arts organizations as well as the funding and facilitating Irish participation at strategic international arts events.
  • Transferring the Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) into the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI)
  • Partially funding TG4 directly from TV Licence reducing the direct Exchequer subvention