The Irish government is set to pump €200 million ($247.2 million) into the country’s media production and audiovisual industries over the next 10 years. The announcement came as part of the publication of a government report Tuesday titled “Investing in Our Culture, Language and Heritage 2018-2027,” a cornerstone of its Project Ireland 2040 initiative.
Ireland’s national film agency, the Irish Film Board, which manages funds for the development and production of Irish film, television drama, documentary and animation, welcomed the announcement. In a speech Tuesday chair Annie Doona also revealed the agency would be changing its name to Screen Ireland, which she said reflected “the widening remit of the board.”
Doona said the commitment to investment in the Irish media production and audio-visual industries would “increase our ability to support the multifarious voices and talents who make our sector what it is.”
“The Irish film, television and animation industry is experiencing a period of sustained success and critical acclaim,” said Doona, citing last year’s Oscar-nominated animated feature “The Breadwinner” (pictured) as well as Oscar-nominated Irish talent including Saoirse Ronan and Martin McDonagh as recent examples. “The industry’s current flourishing is the result of the [Irish Film Board’s] years of investment in Irish creative filmmaking talent, made possible through consistent government backing as well as Section 481 [Ireland’s 32% tax credit], which plays a crucial role in attracting inward production to Ireland.”
In total the Irish government is committed to providing €1.19 billion ($1.47 billion) in capital funding for culture, language and heritage over the next 10 years. The objective of the Project Ireland 2040 initiative is to provide better social, economic and cultural infrastructure in Ireland, benefiting every part of the country and each individual. The government report says it is “a statement of the importance of culture to how we live and the kind of society we want to create for our children” that it chose to launch the cultural investment component of Project Ireland 2040 ahead of any other.
The report highlights the case for cultural investment with six propositions: that it is the window through which the world sees Ireland and the Irish people; that arts and culture function as a robust social infrastructure and underpin individual well-being; that heritage plays a major role in creating and sustaining community cohesion; that the Irish language is fundamental to Irish identity; that the arts are of intrinsic value to individuals and society; and that participation in arts and culture is instrumental in developing individual and collective creativity with implications for society and the economy.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said the government investment “represents a major step-change in the state’s approach to cultural investment.” “Combined with our commitment to double expenditure on the arts over the next seven years, the overarching vision set out in ‘Culture 2025’ [the Irish government’s national cultural framework policy published in 2015] and the cross-cutting commitments of the Creative Ireland Program, what we are now seeing is the most significant commitment to culture that any Irish government has ever made,” said Varadkar.
Doona said the new commitment would also allow the Irish Film Board to build on Ireland’s “international reputation as a center of excellence for media production.” “With the possibility of more international co-production opportunities, we will seek to develop and produce more large-scale feature co-productions as well as supporting Irish films,” said Doona.