What kind of writing does the Arts Council support?
The Arts Council supports high-quality writing in English and in Irish and includes:
- literary criticism
- creative non-fiction
- children's literature
- illustrated picture books
- contemporary literary biography/autobiography
- and graphic novels
We also support other types of artistic writing (i.e. critical writing about the arts) but this is dealt with by the relevant artforms. For example, critical writing about dance is the responsibility of the Dance team and critical writing about visual arts is the responsibility of the Visual Arts team.
The Arts Council’s remit does not extend to areas outside of those listed above, such as screenwriting, journalism, history, religious writing, professional, instructional and academic writing. It also excludes illustration for advertising purposes or illustration for uses outside of book publication. Playwriting and theatre-making is the responsibility of the Theatre team.
I notice that your awards are open to professional artists. What does that mean in literature?
The Arts Council defines a professional artist as ‘a person actively pursuing a career as an artist in any artform, and who considers their arts practice to be their main profession or career. This applies even if their work in the arts is not their main source of income or they have other employment’.
When applying to the Arts Council for funding, you will need to demonstrate through your CV that you have professional experience as a writer of creative work. This usually takes the form of publication with independent, recognised journals or publishers.
If you haven't any professional experience writing creative work, we'd encourage you to engage with the many journals and publishers we support.
Additionally, the following resource organisations may be able to help you as you establish yourself as a professional writer:
Irish Writers' Centre, located on Parnell Square in Dublin, is the national organisation for writers and writing in Ireland. They provide a wide range of supports to writers of all types and talents, and actively encourage writers from all communities to engage in creative writing.
Children's Books Ireland is the national children’s books organisation of Ireland. Through its activities and events, the organisation aims to engage young people with books, foster a greater understanding of the importance of books for young people and act as a core resource for those with an interest in books for children in Ireland.
Literature Ireland is the national agency in Ireland for the promotion of Irish literature abroad. They work to build an international awareness and appreciation of contemporary Irish literature, primarily in translation.
Munster Literature Centre, based in Frank O'Connor's former home in Cork City, is dedicated to the promotion and celebration of literature, especially that of Munster. To this end, the organisation organises festivals, workshops, readings and competitions.
Poetry Ireland is the national organisation for poetry in Ireland and is dedicated to developing, supporting and promoting poetry through Ireland.
I am a writer and I need time to work on my novel, short story or poetry collection. Can the Arts Council help?
You may be eligible to apply for a Literature Bursary Award or the Agility Award. Please note you may only apply for one of these awards per calendar year.
The Literature Bursary Award provides writers and picture-book artists with the time and resources to think, research, reflect, create and write. It enables writers and picture-book artists to concentrate on their creative work for a period of time, usually by releasing them from their financial commitments.
Please note the literature bursary is not intended to cover costs associated with publishing or self-publishing.
You can apply for one of the following amounts: €10,000, €15,000 and €20,000.
The Agility Award is open to individual professional artists and arts practitioners at all stages of their career to develop their practice, work and/or skills. For writers and illustrators who are at the emerging stage of their career, and may have a more limited publishing track record, the Agility Award may be for you.
You can apply for any amount between €1,500 and €5,000.
What is the difference between the Literature Bursary Award and the Agility Award?
While there is some overlap between the Literature Bursary Award and the Agility Award, they are distinct awards, with distinct purposes. The Literature Bursary is focused on ‘buying time’ and allows writers and picture book illustrators time to think, reflect and develop their practice. The Agility Award’s purpose is to support artists to develop their practice, work and/or skills. For the selection process this means:
Literature Bursary Award
At both shortlisting and panel stage, emphasis is placed on the track record of the applicant, as demonstrated in the application form and CV. Promise and potential, as demonstrated in the application form and writing sample, are also considered.
When assessing the award, emphasis is placed on promise and potential, as evidenced by the application form, CV and samples of work. The artistic track record of the applicant is also considered.
What is the difference between a Bursary and the Next Generation Artists Award?
While there is some overlap between the Literature Bursary Award and the Next Generation Award, they are distinct awards, with distinct purposes. The Literature Bursary is focused on ‘buying time’ and allows writers and picture book illustrators time to think, reflect and develop their practice. The Next Generation Artist Award is a unique opportunity for a group of artists that are at a critical or transformative point in their careers. It combines the time and space that a bursary provides with a residential programme with artists across all disciplines.
The Literature Bursary Award is assessed initially by the Literature Adviser, and shortlisted applications are considered by a peer panel with expertise in literature. In most cases, the panel consists of a prose fiction writer, a poet, a children’s/YA writer/illustrator and a literary editor.
In Round 2 of the 2021 Literature Bursary (English language), we received 141 eligible applications. 54 applications were shortlisted and 46 were awarded funding.
Literature applicants for the Next Generation Artists Award are assessed initially by the Literature adviser, and shortlisted applicants are considered by a multi-disciplinary peer panel, along with shortlisted applications from other artforms and arts practices.
Out of the 188 eligible applications received for Next Generation 2021, 34 were literature applications. 8 of these Literature applications were shortlisted, and 2 received funding.
I've finished my book and I would like to be published. Can the Arts Council help me?
The Arts Council does not prioritise support for self-publication, but instead offers funding assistance to numerous literary publishers and journals across the country. We do this to ensure that Arts Council funding goes towards works which will be published, distributed and marketed to the highest standards.
The Arts Council supports a number of literary publishers and journals and you can find a list of them here. This list is by no means exhaustive, however, and you should also consult literature resource organisations for further advice, including contacts for literary agents.
Books Ireland's recently published The Irish Writers Handbook offers insight and practical advice for your writing and publishing journey, whether you’re just getting started or are ready to take the next step, including comprehensive and up-to-date contacts and listings.
I'm a writer and I've been invited to read at a festival abroad. Can I apply to the Arts Council for funding?
No. You can apply to Culture Ireland, the national body for the promotion of Irish arts worldwide. You can find out more about Culture Ireland and funding opportunities here: http://www.cultureireland.ie/funding
What is the Literature Project Award?
The Literature Project Award is open to organisations and individuals and supports projects that connect literature with readers and audiences. This award supports discrete activities and outcomes, rather than a series of events or activities and should have a defined beginning and end; ongoing activities can be supported through a number of other Arts Council funding programmes, including Strategic Funding and Arts Grant Funding.
Applicants can apply for up to €30,000.
*Writers wishing to ‘buy time’ to develop a specific piece of writing should apply to the Literature Bursary or Agility Award.
I read somewhere that the Arts Council has writers in residence at universities. How can I find out more?
The Writer in Residence scheme was established to provide a stimulating university environment for the resident artist and afford them a degree of financial support to concentrate on their own practice. The residency brings energy and dynamism to the university and allows students and faculty to engage with a practicing artist for a concentrated period. The Arts Council currently has 7 writers in residence, which you can read about here.
We will normally advertise our Writer in Residence opportunities from late summer each year, on our website and with our university partners.
I’m an established publisher. Our company doesn't receive Arts Council funding but we don’t have enough money in our budget to publish a very important literary book. Can the Arts Council help us?
You could consider applying for Arts Grant Funding.
Arts Grant Funding awards funding to organisations and individuals to carry out a series of activities, including the production of high-quality literary books and publications, and their promotion and dissemination to a wide audience.
Arts Council supported publishers and journals
The list of publishers and journals currently supported by the Arts Council can be found here.