Making Great Art Work (MGAW) is the Arts Council's strategy for the arts in Ireland from 2016-2025. The aim is that over the decade 2016-2025, the centrality of the arts to Irish life will have been strengthened by the Arts Council's advocacy, support of artists throughout their careers, by the involvement of many agencies in cultural provision, by the impact of the arts on the creative economy, and by the depth and breadth of people's engagement with the arts as a valued feature of their lives.
Within the strategy there are twenty-one objectives - with a focus on partnerships; social inclusion; diverse communities and contexts; and arts provision for children and young people. It sets out five priority areas, each with a distinct goal. There are two policy areas that are identified as priorities:
* 'The Artist' - Goal: Artists are supported to make excellent work which is enjoyed and valued; and
* 'Public Engagement' - Goal: More people will enjoy high-quality arts experiences.
In addition it designates three areas of planning and decision-making as priorities, as follows;
* 'Investment Strategy' - Goal: Public monies are invested effectively to realise our priorities;
* 'Spatial and Demographic Planning' - Goal: Well-planned arts provision benefits people across Ireland; and
* 'Developing Capacity' - Goal: The Arts Council and the arts sector have the knowledge, skills and inventiveness to realise this strategy.
The Arts Council upholds the rights of children and young people to enjoy their full cultural entitlements and accordingly a core objective of this strategy is 'planning and providing for young people', which states;
* advocate for the centrality of the arts in formal education at all levels and for the provision of quality vocational training in the arts;
* work with the Departments of Arts and of Education to achieve full implementation of the Arts in Education Charter;
* invest in artists, arts organisations and key programmes dedicated to developing high quality work in arts-in-education and youth arts, and support the provision of excellent arts experiences for young people in the public domain;
* make provision for children and young people a key focus of the Arts Council's relationship with local government;
* incorporate the Arts Council's commitment to young people into the mainstream of decision-making and, where appropriate, into funding agreements with arts organisations.
In their Three Year Plan- 2020-2022 the Arts Council reiterates its continued work to keep the arts at the centre of all national policy making and will continue much of the work started over the last three years: refining it, improving it and further developing it. The Plan is more externally focused, engaging more with diverse communities across Ireland, placing equality and human rights at the centre of all their activities and providing opportunities for artists and arts organisations to develop their skills and capacities in innovative and new ways across the digital realm and in cross-disciplinary practice.
Three-year planning cycles within the decade long strategic framework enables the achievement of medium-term objectives and long-term goals.
During the Three-Year Plan 2017-2019 the following results were achieved;
* Introduction of a new funding framework, which the Arts Council will continue to improve and streamline over the next three years;
* New systems developed to better capture and use data and evidence to support decision-making and advocacy work;
* New programmes and policies developed in the areas of diversity, equality and human rights, targeting support to particular communities.
* Renewal and development of relationships with local authorities;
* Review of how arts centres across the country were supported;
* Commencement of the important work of addressing artists' pay and conditions.
Achievements to date include;
* The Arts Council commissioned a study, carried out by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), which looked at arts and cultural participation among children and young people http://www.artscouncil.ie/uploadedFiles/Arts-and-cultural-particiption-G...).
* The Arts in Education Portal (http://www.artsineducation.ie) is a key national digital resource for arts and education practice in Ireland.
* Creative Schools is a flagship initiative of the Creative Ireland Programme and is led by the Arts Council. The long term aim is for every school to be supported to fully embrace the arts and creativity, ensuring a positive experience and strong outcomes for children and young people.
* The Arts Council oversees three distinct programmes of activity in the area of international arts: the Creative Europe Desk Ireland - Culture Office; the Venice Biennale; Mobility of Artists and the provision of awards to support international collaboration.
* Arts participation is a core value for the Arts Council in its commitment to increasing public access, participation and engagement in the arts. It is broken down into five different strands, each with its own set of knowledge, expertise and cross-sector partnerships. These include: Arts and Health; Arts and Disability; Cultural Diversity and the Arts; Arts and Communities; and Arts and Older People. The Arts Council funds a number of key organisations and agencies that have a central role in supporting these strands of work.
* In 2019 the Arts Council launched their Equality, Human Rights and Diversity Policy and Strategy which builds on their work areas in Arts and Disability, Cultural Diversity and Arts Policy and Dignity at Work.
* The Arts Council offers a wide range of financial supports across artforms and arts practices, including those that actively promote cultural diversity and the arts.
* Arts and Disability Connect (ADC) is a new scheme open to artists with disabilities working in any art form.
* Arts and health embraces a range of arts practices occurring primarily in healthcare settings, which bring together the skills and priorities of both arts and health professionals.
* There are a number of agencies funded by the Arts Council which have a central role in supporting and encouraging older people to get involved in the arts.
* The Arts Council offers a wide range of financial supports across artforms and arts practices, including arts and communities.
* The Arts Council launched the Paying the Artist Policy in 2020 in line with their commitment to improving the living and working conditions of the artist.
* A negotiation is underway with key national stakeholders to progress with investment agreements between the Strategic Banking Cooperation of Ireland and the arts sector to provide a specific Loan Guarantee for the arts sector to avail of.
Funding for the Arts Council in 2020 totals EU105m ($123m). This will increase to EU130m ($152m) in 2021. The significant year on year increase in funding reflects, in part, the key role that the Arts Council plays in supporting artists both during and in the eventual aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic environment.
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