Arts Funding in Ireland: What’s out there for beginners?

Shona Dennis

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Photo credit: Marcin Wichary (Flickr)
Photo credit: Marcin Wichary (Flickr)

Since 2008, the arts and our cultural institutions have struggled against budget cuts. While critically acclaimed Irish novels and films continue to do well internationally, perhaps not enough attention is payed the to the potential successes of the future needing encouragement at home. For individual artists starting out, trying to make ends meet while putting a lot of time into their craft can be a struggle. The effort it takes to get your first album or screenplay out into the world requires not just creativity but financial planning. The Arts Council of Ireland is there to offer some support in that regard, with a number of grants available to help artists in their endeavours. While they take a fair bit of paperwork and determination, anyone thinking of getting their project off the ground should consider the following bursaries in the coming months:

The Music Bursary Award 

This is a grant for music professionals (of any stage and income) working on the creation or performance of new Irish music or editions of rare pieces of historic Irish music.

It is also suitable for emerging Irish composers and conductors of ‘proven promise’.

Up to €10,000 may be given at a time to support professional artists in the field of music who want to take their work further.

The purpose of the award is to facilitate the value that an artist’s work gains when they have spent an extended time engaged with the creative process. As with all of the grants on offer, getting support from one means you are afforded time and resources in order to think, research, and reflect upon your project.

Literature Bursary Award 

Whether you’re already published or an emerging writer working on your debut, it’s possible you may secure some level of funding to allow yourself time to work on your project. ‘Literature’ in this case covers fiction, graphic novels, poetry, contemporary biographies/autobiographies, illustrated picture books and children’s literature.

The maximum amount which can be awarded here is €15,000 to cover a writer for one year. If you’re an unpublished emerging writer, you may only receive a smaller grant of up to €4,000. The Arts Council states that this is their most requested award scheme and as a result, the competition to secure anything from it is high.

Irish Film Board / Film Bursary Award 

The Irish Film Board offers funding to cover screenwriting,  production and distribution across a range of genres. There are a number of deadlines for each aspect of film making that take place each month, so anyone interested should check regularly for updates and allow plenty of time to get all paperwork in order before applying.

The Film Bursary Award, from the Arts Council, is much more specific. This grant is designated for makers of experimental and non-narrative films, rather than the conventional shorts first time directors and writers aspire to get done.

The Deis Recording & Publication Award

This award is geared mainly towards musicians who are interested in preserving traditional music and culture within the the arts. It’s open to individuals, bands, or organisations who are willing to contribute to that cause in some way. The ‘traditional arts’ covered under the funding are traditional music, dance and storytelling. The maximum amount which can be awarded to anyone interested is €10,000.

Otherwise, if you have a particularly original theme or format relating to traditional Irish culture, you can pitch it and see if you’ll be assisted in developing the idea further.

Extensive details, deadlines and online application forms relating to each of the above awards can be found on

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Shona Dennis