About Creative Ireland

 Creative Ireland Programme— Culture, Wellbeing and the Creative Society

Creative Ireland is the Government’s Legacy Programme for Ireland 2016 – a five-year initiative, from 2017 to 2022, which places creativity at the centre of public policy

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It is a high-level, high-ambition, all-ofgovernment initiative to mainstream creativity in the life of the nation so that individually and collectively, in our personal lives and in our institutions, we can realise our full creative potential.

Creative Ireland is a culture-based programme designed to promote individual, community and national wellbeing. The core proposition is that participation in cultural activity drives personal and collective creativity, with significant implications for individual and societal wellbeing and achievement.

Creative Ireland is the main implementation vehicle for the priorities identified in Culture 2025/Éire Ildánach, the draft cultural policy published by the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs in July 2016, which sees a vibrant cultural ecosystem as essential to society. Culture 2025/Éire Ildánach states that arts and culture are intrinsic to the Irish State, acknowledges the need to increase access to, and participation in, the arts, boost our creative industries, and preserve our heritage with a particular focus on language, landscape and the environment.

Creative Ireland as a 2016 legacy project is inspired by the extraordinary public response to the Centenary: the thousands of events, largely culture-based, and unprecedented public participation that brought us together in shared reflections on identity, culture and citizenship that combined history with arts, heritage and language.

Creative Ireland will bring coordination and focus to existing culture-based policies and initiatives – and lead to ambitious new actions.

Creative Ireland is a wellbeing strategy for people, but it will also enable a representation of Ireland to the outside world that is well grounded, widely understood and meaningful. Creative Ireland will coordinate and enable the construction of that representation, seeking coherence among all stakeholders and placing a clear focus on our rich cultural heritage and our creativity.

Creative Ireland is underpinned by the key values should be identified in Culture 2025/Éire Ildánach. They are:

  • The intrinsic value of culture
  • The value of culture to our lives and our communities
  • The right of everyone to participate in the cultural life of the nation
  • The importance of the Irish language, our cultural heritage, folklore, games, music and the uniqueness of our Gaeltacht areas
  • The value of cultural diversity, informed by the many traditions and social backgrounds now in Ireland
  • The value of culture as a means of fostering a more sustainable future for Ireland, including through economic and social policy
  • The value of culture in presenting Ireland to the world.


Creative Ireland defines creativity as a set of innate abilities and learned skills: the capacity of individuals and organisations to transcend accepted ideas and norms and by drawing on imagination to create new ideas that bring additional value to human activity.

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Culture and creativity are inextricably linked: artists and designers are central to the evolution of a culture of creativity. The artist is the primary interrogator and narrator of our culture: the designer uses the artist’s insights to infuse products, spaces and processes with cultural meaning, distinctiveness and human value.

Continuous engagement with the arts is enormously beneficial for building creative capacities and enhancing wellbeing. Music, visual art, cinema and poetry contribute to societal creativity in such a way as to stimulate learning, good health and social cohesion – as well as job creation and economic prosperity.

Human creativity is often described as the ultimate economic resource, essential to the prosperity of any business, city, community or country.

Creative people are key to the new economy in which the ability to conceptualise is more important than knowledge. Culture and creativity are essential features of an innovative, post-industrial economy.

 Background of 2016, the Centenary

The Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme has facilitated a heightened sense of shared identity, pride of country and place, and active citizenship.

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The public response to the invitation of the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme has been characterised by unprecedented levels of historical enquiry, community activity and cultural engagement. An analysis of the seven strands of the programme – nationally, county by county, and in our Diaspora – shows arts and cultural events predominating throughout.

The revolutionary generation was born out of the Gaelic League, the Irish Revival, The Irish National Literary Society, The Abbey and other cultural institutions of the time. Central to the Centenary has been our contemporary cultural life: the county libraries, the county arts and heritage offices, our archivists, community based arts groups, Irish language organisations, our universities, the Royal Irish Academy, all of the National Cultural Institutions, the Arts Council, the Irish Film Board, Culture Ireland, as well as theatres, County and City Halls, arts festivals, RTÉ and the public airwaves, concert and music venues, the streets of our cities and towns and the landscape itself – and of course the many artists and creators in different disciplines who responded to the Centenary.

Our natural affinity with the creative arts has become abundantly evident during the year. The arts provided the direct experiential platform for widespread engagement in which multiple narratives were heard and explored. We have been reminded of the centrality of the creative and participative arts to our sense of national identity and purpose.

For these reasons, there is a compelling case for a significant legacy project built around the themes of identity, culture and citizenship, and the transformative power of creativity.

 Creativity—The National Policy Context

Creative Ireland will bring an enhanced level of coordination, focus and leadership to existing policies and initiatives across national and local government, State agencies, the arts and culture sector, Gaeltacht and Irish language organisations, and will provide linkages to the private business and NGO sectors.

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Creative Ireland contextualises the Programme for a Partnership Government which states that:

  • Arts and culture are intrinsic to the Irish State
  • We believe the arts belong to everybody and we need to increase access to, and participation in, the arts, boost our creative industries and preserve our heritage
  • Societies which invest in the arts and heritage are more prosperous, successful societies.

Creative Ireland subscribes to the values and high-level principles set out in Culture 2025/ Éire Ildánach which aim to:

  • Enrich the lives of everyone through engagement in the cultural life of the nation
  • Create opportunities for increased citizen participation, especially for those currently excluded
  • Encourage ambition, risk, innovation and excellence in the creative and cultural sectors
  • Ensure that culture is seen as a core component of work across Government
  • Recognise and support the cultural contribution of the voluntary sector
  • Ensure the robustness of systems which safeguard and promote Ireland’s cultural heritage
  • Support a thriving Irish language, with vibrant Gaeltacht communities and other language networks
  • Promote Ireland’s culture on the international stage
  • Finance this vision with welldesigned funding mechanisms.

Creative Ireland is the main implementation vehicle for the priorities identified in that framework policy which seek to:

  • Put culture at the heart of our lives
  • Foster creativity
  • Celebrate our cultural heritage and traditions
  • Recognise the importance of culture to a vibrant society
  • See collaboration as the new norm
  • Emphasise the international dimension
  • Respond to the digital age.

The Charter for Arts in Education contained in Art in Education (2012), a joint policy document of the Departments of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Education and Skills, will be supported by Creative Ireland. It states the following:

We believe creativity must be placed at the heart of our future as a society and a country. The arts are our first encounter with that rich world of creativity, and we believe in placing the arts, alongside other subjects, at the core of our education system.

Various other State-funded research projects have demonstrated a direct link between arts-based creativity and wellbeing in various settings. The importance of the arts in the field of mental health, for example, is widely acknowledged. Among the many practical examples of arts and wellbeing are:

  • The Arts in Care Settings project initiated by Age and Opportunity with a long-term aim of making the arts and creativity intrinsic to life-in-care settings for older people
  • Design & Dignity, a joint project of the HSE and the Irish Hospice Foundation which brings high standards of art, design and architecture to end-of-life settings, mainly in public hospitals – and is acknowledged as having extraordinarily positive outcomes for the dying, the bereaved and for hospital staff and carers
  • Arts in prison programmes, including the Arts Council Writers in Prison scheme and the Visual Artists in Prisons scheme, which are widely recognised for reducing recidivism and contributing to rehabilitation and self-confidence.

The Global Island: Ireland’s Foreign Policy for a Changing World (2015) states that ‘Irish culture is a global commons, recognised and followed by people who may have no other connection to Ireland.’

The review also makes the point that ‘through cultural diplomacy, the relationship we have built with our diaspora communities and the partnerships we have forged around the globe can only be strengthened.’ This is an observation that has been borne out by the experience of our embassy network in 2016 which highlights the role of arts and culture in defining our place in the world and our capacity for strengthening relationships around the globe.

Cultural interaction facilitates relationships across the island of Ireland whose importance goes beyond the cultural sphere. Culture operates beyond borders and boundaries, thus facilitating cross-community and cross-cultural understanding at the deepest level. Creative Ireland will nurture such relationships and will continuously explore new ways in which culture and creativity can bring people together on this island.

Cultural and creative activities which help foster reconciliation on the island will continue to be supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Reconciliation Fund. Local authorities and state bodies will be encouraged to co-operate on a cross-border basis within the framework of Creative Ireland.

Creative Ireland will also support the mission of Culture Ireland, the Division of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs responsible for the promotion of Irish arts worldwide, as it continues to present the richness and quality of Irish creativity to international audiences.

Creative Ireland will support existing initiatives in the creative industries and promote further collaborative efforts involving agencies such as Enterprise Ireland and The Design & Crafts Council of Ireland, drawing on all available resources to facilitate the best and most effective creativity initiatives for enterprise.

Creative Ireland will, to the greatest extent possible, seek to integrate its activities with Creative Europe—the EU programme for the cultural and creative sectors for the years 2014-2020.

 Year 1 Programme

The following ten initiatives will be completed and in place by the end of 2017:

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1. A national plan to enable every child in Ireland to access tuition in music, drama, art and coding

2. A Culture and Creativity plan in every county

3. A Culture Team, Director-led, configured to local needs, in every county

4. Cruinniú na Cásca programme

5. The Departments of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and Social Protection will work together to devise a mechanism to assist selfemployed artists who have applied for Jobseekers Allowance. This would be a pilot scheme.

6. A plan for the development of each National Cultural Institution to 2022

7. A five year capital investment programme for the culture and heritage sector

8. An industry-wide, long-term plan, for Ireland as a global hub for the production of Film, TV Drama, and Animation

9. A unified international identity and communications programme for Ireland

10. A new Creative Ireland Forum conference to showcase the best national and international thinking will have taken place.

 Structure, Governance and High-level Tasks

The structural elements of Creative Ireland are:

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  • A Cabinet Committee chaired by An Taoiseach
  • A Senior Officials Group, led by the Secretary General of the Department of An Taoiseach, comprising senior civil servants from each relevant Department
  • A dedicated Project Office, located in the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

A critical success factor for Ireland 2016 was the unprecedented level of inter-departmental and inter-agency collaboration. Creative Ireland will implement the lessons learned in this regard, creating a collaborative, crossgovernment initiative, and a model that can be mirrored at local level.

The core work of Creative Ireland is creating and sustaining functional and productive partnerships with all identified agencies built on detailed work-plans, with tangible outcomes, that will be developed in consultation with each partner organisation.

In addition to the key government Departments and local government structures, other partners involved in Creative Ireland will include the third level sector, arts and culture organisations (including the National Cultural Institutions), media organisations, the Arts Council, the Heritage Council, the Irish Film Board, Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Tourism Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, Bord Bia, Science Foundation Ireland, Údarás na Gaeltachta, An Foras Teanga, the Design and Craft Council, the Western Development Commission, and other organisations in the arts, culture, Irish language, education, child development, design, science and technology sectors.