New Arts Bill Before Oireachtas

As we go to press, the new Arts Bill which was published by Minister Síle de Valera has been brought before the Oireachtas by Minister John O’Donoghue who has responsibility for arts in the new Government.

This Bill will repeal the Arts Acts of 1951 and 1973.

The publication of the much-awaited Bill, the first in 30 years, follows an extensive consultative process. Several hundred submissions were made in response to an advertisement inviting submissions to the new Arts Review. Over 50% of all submissions related to Irish traditional arts: these came from musicians, adminstrators, ensembles and organsiations.

Following on the submissions, an intensive consultative weekend was held in the Royal Marine Hotel, Dún Laoghaire. This was presided over by sonsultants Price Waterhouse Coopers.

The Bill represents a radical and imaginative restructuring of the Arts Council and in the cse of the Irish Traditional Arts this will be enshrined in legislation.

The original Arts legislation made no reference to Irish Traditional Arts. The new Arts Bill corrects this omission.

The Arts Council will be reduced from seventeen to eight members and a Chairman.

A Standing Committee will be established for Irish Traditional Arts. This committee will advice the Arts Council on issues falling within its remit and will make recommendations to the council on the advance of moneys to any person relating to Irish traditional arts.

The standing Committee shall consist of a chairperson appointed by the Minister and 4 ordinary members, 2 of whom shall be appointed by the Minister and 2 of whom shall be appointed by the Council. Ordinary members may be Council members or members who are not members of the Council. The plans and strategies of the Council will be required to be compatible with Government policy on the arts.

The bill provides that the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands shall promoate the arts, both nationally and internationally and gives recognition to the rolf of the Minister in formulating overall State policy on the arts.

There are now thousands of traditional performers in Ireland, many of them achieving hight standards of excellence. Over 10,000 performers attended Fleadh Cheoil Na hÉireann in Listowel.