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Understanding Culture Ireland Opportunities Oct 2020

Understanding culture ireland banner

At Jazz Connector on 1st October 2020, members of Ireland’s jazz and improvised music scene gathered to discuss

Culture Ireland: Future Plans and Funding Opportunities.

Our Guest Speaker was Valerie Behan, Director of Programmes at Culture Ireland.

Guest Speakers are expressing their own personal opinions, and not speaking on behalf of their organisations or employers.

Some of the points of connection which emerged over the course of this Jazz Connector discussion were:

Culture Ireland Overview

  • Traditionally Culture Ireland work to get artists from Ireland working abroad, in collaboration with international presenters. The presenters pay artist fees while Culture Ireland can pay travel and associated costs.
  • Since Lockdown they’ve had the Ireland Performs series, with people performing from home.
  • They’ve supported artists to present digitally at Philadelphia Irish Music Fest, Milwaukee Irish Music Fest etc. In this case, they provided support for the technical elements, while the festivals paid the artist fees.
  • In November 2020, they will be having a strategy meeting with an expert advisory committee to create plans for what will best support artists in the current time.
  • About 2/3rds of the applications Culture Ireland gets are for music - they support all types of arts, but frequently music. Theatre might get bigger budgets as productions tend to be more expensive.
  • The most common genres they support are traditional and contemporary music. At the moment there are fewer applications for jazz and improvised music but they would like to see an increase in these.
  • A long-term plan/strategy from the jazz community as a whole might be helpful to work with, e.g. They work with First Music Contact on Ireland Music Week etc., they’ve sent an Irish delegation to jazzahead!

Culture Ireland Application process

  • There are 3 annual funding rounds, the next one is on October 15th.
  • While spring/summer rounds were hopeful of funding travel, October will be accepting different types of applications. Some that aim to travel in 2021, but they will also be accepting some for a hybrid of travel and online presentations (one or the other, or both). They will most likely not be supporting international travel until early 2021 at the earliest.
  • Culture Ireland would support the technical cost to present work abroad with an international partner, on the condition that the international partner pays the artists’ fees for the work.
  • Application requirements
    • They should be as detailed as possible regarding the project, who the partners are, the outlay, and a realistic budget on technical costs for recording of work to be presented overseas.
    • They need to include a letter of support from the receiving partner, or other proof. Support from the international partner could also include technical support i.e. expertise.
  • Application review process
    • 1. Culture Ireland reviews for eligibility
    • 2. Expert panellists from each artform give their opinion backed by knowledge of the genre, understanding of the quality, understanding of track records.
    • 3. The Embassy in the particular territory reviews the application as to how appropriate the venue is to the project etc., what the benefits would be for the artist or Culture Ireland in this territory.
    • 4. Culture Ireland takes all of this collated info to the expert advisory committee (11 members), who include artists from different art forms and genres, and ex officio members, e.g. from Screen Ireland and the Department of Foreign Affairs.
  • Elements which work in your favour are:
    • Your audience numbers
    • A tour covering several locations, rather than one event. One event would need to be justified as crucially important.
    • A realistic budget.
    • Track record of performing (at home or abroad).

Developing Particular Areas

  • Culture Ireland is not working to develop a specific territory at the moment as they have done in the past (e.g. 2018 Great Britain).
  • They may in the future focus on areas - Germany is a close possibility.
  • Cultural Officers are being appointed in key cities - Berlin, New York, London so far, next potentially in Asia.

Future Aims

  • Export and maintaining Ireland’s recognition for Culture is almost more important now than ever.
  • Government’s aim is still to double Ireland’s global footprint by 2025.

Musicians’ Concerns

  • Can Culture Ireland offer the possibility of supporting different payment models? Sometimes it is significantly more valuable to an artist to have a particular opportunity with a lot of in-kind support and expenses paid rather than a flat fee, but this disqualified them from Culture Ireland funding.
    • While Culture Ireland are very concerned that artists should always be paid for their work, they understand the value of other types of support in some circumstances and they will discuss this point at the next strategy meeting.
  • Can Culture Ireland support work permits for US tours which are a significant barrier for Irish artists?
    • While Culture Ireland can’t become involved in the work permit application process, they have funded the costs in the past. They hope that when appointed the new Cultural Officer for Ireland in NY will be able to offer general advice to artists on the process.
  • Payment process can be difficult for artists as it is all receipt-based, which penalises musicians who may not have a steady cash flow. This can mean getting nothing for a long time if there are a number of separated events in a project. It would be much more accessible if some of the costs could be given upfront.
    • Culture Ireland as a government body spending public money has to comply with the structures put in place by the Comptroller General and Auditor of Funds, and this receipt structure is determined by them. However, they will raise this point in their strategy meeting as a difficulty for artists.
  • Can touring projects which are funded transition into digital projects if travel restrictions are placed later?
    • This year Culture Ireland have paid cancellation fees on travel and accommodation that couldn’t be refunded. They advise travel insurance for all projects. They aim to come up with a system that won’t leave musicians out of pocket for last-minute cancellations. This year projects did transition to online and Culture Ireland was able to fund technical costs.
  • Different application structures. With jazz, lead-times on projects are much shorter and rolling deadlines or more frequent deadlines. This also fits better with the working models of jazz organisations in other countries.
    • Culture Ireland will be discussing the possibility of more funding rounds or rolling deadlines, lead-in times are likely to become shorter because of working with online formats.
  • Can Culture Ireland offer funding for artists from other countries to tour Ireland? Reciprocal relationships are often the basis on which tours are constructed.
    • Culture Ireland is for Irish arts abroad, and in Valerie’s experience they have never worked in reciprocal relationships like this. The more likely model would be that Culture Ireland supports the Irish artist abroad while the other country’s export bureau supports the international artist to come to Ireland.
  • See Here programme to bring programmers/directors to Ireland. Could this be a digital model at the moment?
    • Yes, if the proposal is specific enough with international support, i.e. Dublin Theatre Festival are running an International Theatre Exchange - virtual meeting with international programmers, with online pitches featuring snippets of shows if possible, and then conversations with programmers. Ireland Music Week has also been funded to present to international presenters. Costs covered could include technical, venue and promotion costs, amongst others.

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PLEASE let us know by email to artists about any topics that you would like to be discussed as part of Jazz Connector. This can be about experiences that you would like to compare with other artists, or advice you would like to gain on specific topics. Where feasible we can contact guest speakers with specific expertise to give their advice.

For specific advice in relation to projects or applications, we can also take personal meetings. Send us an email and we can chat by Zoom or phone.

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