Arts funding in Ireland: exploring factors affecting grant awards to Black and Black-Irish artists.

The Arts Council /An Chomhairle EalaĆ­on is the Irish government agency for developing the arts. It works in partnership with artists, arts organisations, public policy makers, and others to build a place for the arts in Irish life.

The Arts Council has policies that aim to ensure that all of its funding is spent strategically, all of its actions reflect the long-term interests of the public and that all decisions are transparent and fair.

Each year, the Arts Council publishes equality data on individuals applying for and receiving Arts Council funding, broken down by gender, disability and ethnicity.

In its 2021 Awards Data Report, the Arts Council published data which showed that Black or Black Irish artists made up 1.9% of applications, 1.5% of successful applications, 1.4% of unsuccessful applications, and 4.5% of applications deemed ineligible. The proportion of ineligible applications is higher than any other ethnic or racial group.

We are currently undertaking research for the Arts Council of Ireland to understand why Black or Black-Irish artists are more likely to be deemed ineligible than other ethnic or racial groups amongst applicants to Arts Council funding .

We are investigating a wide range of factors which might contribute to this high rate of ineligible applications. We have reviewed a wide literature on barriers faced by minority artists, analysed available application data, and in March 2023, we invited Black and Black-Irish artists to take part in this research on a confidential basis regarding their experience of the application process. Participants in the research interview were compensated for their input by the Arts Council in line with its Paying the Artist policy.

The findings will inform a review of the application process to ensure that decision-making processes are based on best practice and applicants of all backgrounds are treated fairly. A summary report which anonymises interview contributions will be shared with the Arts Council.