There are very few areas that reward investment as richly as grassroots arts funding. There are, of course, some failures in that process but even those can offer valuable lessons applicable right across a range of activities. The Arts Council yesterday, through its Arts Grant Funding programme, allocated €7.3m to some 131 artists, arts organisations, and projects. Though less than 10% of the Arts Council budget of €75m for 2019 these funds are a lifeline for individuals and organisations — especially touring theatre companies — and are often the difference between survival or oblivion.
For all of our romanticism, for all of our joy in storytelling and song, it is not hard to argue that we underfund the arts and leave ourselves ever-more open to cultural colonisation, a process already well underway. These grants offer a modest bulwark against this drowning in the bland and should be celebrated by anyone who benefits, as a performer or as a member of an audience, from the opportunities this pin money — it would not pay RTÉ’s top 10 for a year — facilitates. A good start but much, much more is needed.