The Arts Council’s role is to advocate for and support the development of a diverse and varied arts-festival ecology, and to provide a suite of supports that: increase opportunities for public engagement, provide participation in the arts, develop the
work of an artist/artform, encourage models of best practice, establish festivals of national/international significance, provide quality arts experiences for audiences, and foster programmes engaged with, and relevant to, local communities.
This is achieved in our role as the agency for leading the development of arts in Ireland through the provision of initiatives and supports for festivals and as the national agency for funding; providing a number of financial supports to various festival
Through its Strategic Funding, the Arts Council supports the essential infrastructure required to sustain and develop festival practice in Ireland. This spans a broad range of artform practice areas. The Council’s Commissions Scheme and Arts Grant Funding
supports the development of festival programmes and opportunities to strengthen producing and commissioning capacity. In this regard the Arts Council values not only the development of single-artform practice but also the approach of multidisciplinary
and inter-disciplinary arts models in festivals. Through its Open Call programme the Arts Council supports large, ambitious, new projects providing an environment for creative risk-taking in a festival context. The Capacity Building Scheme supports
the professional and strategic development of festival organisations. Through its Festival Investment Scheme the Arts Council supports small festival programmes which deliver quality arts experiences to the public, play an important role in the transmission
of arts practice and contribute to place making in local communities.
A full list of schemes where festivals can apply as the lead applicant is published here.
Strategic Funding supports organisations which are critical and/or or central to the national arts infrastructure and sustain the development of festival practice in Ireland. Organisations must be formally constituted as a CLG, DAC or statutory body to
be supported under this programme.
Multidisciplinary festivals funded through this programme in 2021 include:
A list of single artform festivals funded under this programme can be found here.
Arts Grant Funding
Arts Grant Funding provides a fixed period of support to organisations/individuals who generate high quality programmes for the public to engage with the arts, facilities that support the work of artists and/or the arts sector. In the context of festivals;
mid-scale/large festival programmes, festivals involved in the creation or development of art projects, festivals addressing deficits in the festival ecology are supported.
Multidisciplinary/Interdisciplinary projects or festivals funded through this programme in 2021 include:
Festivals Investment Scheme
The Festivals Investment Scheme provides non-recurring support for small festivals or new festival programmes in order to deliver quality and imaginative arts experiences for audiences, to contribute to the development of artform practices and to increase
opportunities for public engagement. In this regard, the Arts Council acknowledges the valuable contribution made by voluntary committees in developing and sustaining festivals.
A full breakdown of festivals funded under the Festival Investment Programme can be found in the ‘Who we funded’ link here.
The purpose the Commissions Award is to enable the commissioning of new work from freelance artists. In a festivals context priority is given to: the development of street arts and spectacle artists to test and present work to audiences, opportunities
for artists to co-author new work in collaboration with the public, enable artists from diverse backgrounds to create new ambitious work for festival audiences.
The Open Call supports collaborative ground-breaking public-facing projects of ambition, impact and scale that encourage discourse, provocation or response to place and identity as part of contemporary Ireland
Open Call is a programme for artists
and arts organisations to develop and shift their practice and profile work for the public on a national scale, creating high-profile arts central to people’s lives.
Capacity Building Support Scheme
The Capacity Building Support Scheme has been developed to support arts organisations or arts consortia to gain support, skills and expertise to review and adapt their artistic and/or business models and support their strategic development in the medium
to long term. It supports activities that will assist in building capacity (such as strategy development, training, digital investment), in developing inclusivity, and/or in growing peer support and collaborations. It does not support arts activities
or arts programmes.
Notably, the Capacity Building Support scheme has allowed for the creation of Festival consortia pilot initiatives. Below is a list of such festival networks that support the development of work in a particular artform or arts in a particular region.
West Cork Arts Festival Consortia
The West Cork Arts Festivals Cooperative is a group of eleven festivals that take place across the towns, villages and islands of the region. Established in 2021, this organisation aims to increase awareness of each festival nationally and internationally,
to create a regional network for the exchange of experience and expertise, and to foster collaboration and cooperation that will build capacity to reach new and diverse communities and audiences. Member Festivals include:
Ballydehob Jazz Festival
Baltimore Fiddle Fair
Cape Clear International Storytelling Festival
Clonakilty International Guitar Festival
Drimoleague Singing Festival
Fastnet Film Festival
Masters of Tradition
Skibbereen Arts Festival
West Cork Chamber Music Festival
West Cork Fit-up Theatre Festival
West Cork Literary Festival
Irish Early Music Network
The Irish Early Music Network supports knowledge sharing amongst its members, Initiatives include: creating a small bank of audio, video and streaming equipment for concert and workshop broadcasts by member organisations, facilitating and creating connections
across Europe via membership in the European Early Music Network, EEEmerging (Emerging European Ensembles) and other international initiatives and organisations. Member Festivals include:
Birr Festivals Consortia
The consortium of the Birr Festivals Collective was formed in 2020 to imagine and to create possibilities for the future of Birr’s festivals. Member Festivals include:
Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival
Birr Festival of Music
OFFline Film Festival
Hullabaloo! Offaly’s Children’s Arts Festival
Scripts Ireland’s Playwriting Festival
Other Funding Supports
Whilst the above schemes are central to the Arts Council funding of festivals, other schemes are also available for festivals to apply for. These include:
In the Open – Invitation to Collaboration (special initiative) – to assist curated arts programmes in outdoor spaces in collaboration with local authority partners.
Engaging in Architecture - to enhance and extend the public’s experience of architecture
Deis Recording Scheme – providing support for traditional arts projects, or projects involving collaboration between the traditional arts and other artforms,
that focus on the recording or