There was an interesting development in Arts Council Funding this week with news that Tuam in Galway had been selected for a three year pilot programme developed for communities around the country that have not had opportunities to benefit from sustained public arts investment.

Investment in ‘Creative Places Ireland’ denotes a change in the way the Arts Council invests in the arts – for the first time it will be directly investing in a place and its people and working with key local partners to uncover each location’s key assets, resources and ambitions.

It is hoped the pilot programme, with funding of €150,000 per annum, will encourage a sustainable grassroots approach to creativity and arts development and create new opportunities for local communities to choose, design and take part in brilliant arts experiences over a number of years.

It is based on an understanding that people have the ideas, relationships, resilience and ambition to develop and sustain their own creative change.

A way of developing this in future schemes might be to leverage the Arts Council investment by increasing it on a matched funded basis with local commercial or philanthropic streams of funding.

Turning €50,000 a year into €100,000 or more would provide a very healthy injection into local creative scenes.

“The Creative Places Ireland pilot programme is an exciting step-change in how the Arts Council works,” said Director Orlaith McBride.

“We look forward to working with the community of Tuam to understand what matters to them and explore lots of new opportunities for people to get involved in the development of the arts in Tuam, by amplifying the instinctive creative impulses of the local community.”

“Arts and culture is already strong in the town with its artistic talent including playwright Tom Murphy, Leo Moran, Davy Carton from the Saw Doctors, and musician Brendan Murray. We would like to thank Galway County Council for their support and enthusiasm, this project is one we both wish to learn from in order to develop further opportunities in other places.”

The Arts Council envisages that Tuam will become an exemplar of the programme and the pilot will also help to shape the future development of the arts in other places throughout the country.

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