Speech: IFB Chair Annie Doona’s Response to the Publication of Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage 2018 - 2027
Posted: 10th April 2018
Below is a transcript of a speech delivered by IFB Chair, Dr Annie Doona, in response to the publication of Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage 2018 – 2027, announced today (10 April 2018) as part of Project Ireland 2040:
Firstly, on behalf of Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board (IFB), I would like to welcome this morning’s publication of Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage 2018 – 2027, announced as part of Project Ireland 2040. I would also like to thank An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar T.D., Minister Josepha Madigan and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht for unveiling what is the most significant commitment to culture that any Irish Government has ever made. The IFB is the national development agency for the Irish film, television and animation industry, investing in talent, creativity and enterprise, and central to our role is the support and empowerment of Irish creative filmmaking talent. This talent — which includes established and emerging writers, directors, producers, editors, post production supervisors, set and costume designers, screen animators and directors of photography to name but a few — is the lifeblood of a thriving audio-visual sector, which presently supports over seventeen thousand full-time jobs; making significant and salient contributions to the cultural and economic fabric of Irish life.
At the IFB, we have always sought to bring as many diverse and original voices to screen as possible, recognising film as a medium which not only reflects culture, but as one that also offers space for reflection and transformation. This morning’s announcement of the cultural investment component of Project Ireland 2040 demonstrates the centrality of culture to everyday life; underpinning wellbeing, contributing to a sense of personal and collective identity, and offering a social and economic framework through which we see the world and it sees us.
We are also delighted to welcome the commencement date of the name change of the IFB to Screen Ireland — a transition which reflects the widening remit of the Board and serves to bolster our commitment and responsibilities in supporting the already-successful Irish film, TV and animation industry. Operating under Screen Ireland will also allow us to strengthen our abilities to capitalise on the growth opportunities currently experienced within the wider screen industries.
In December 2016, the IFB was delighted to welcome the launch of Creative Ireland and particularly Pillar 4, which seeks to further establish Ireland as a global centre of excellence for media production, within the wider context of the initiative which places culture at the centre of public policy-making. Today’s announcement that over the next ten years, Government will provide close to €1.2 billion in capital funding for culture, heritage and our language, which includes a €200 million investment in media production and the audio-visual industry, will further consolidate our efforts to fully realise the ambitions of Pillar 4 of Creative Ireland. It will also increase our ability to support the multifarious voices and talents who make our sector what it is. We look forward to continuing to work closely with Minister Madigan on Creative Ireland and we also welcome the Department’s recognition of the need for increased funding for the IFB, so that we can fulfil our remit and further position the sector as a strategically important contributor to the cultural and economic life of the country.
The Irish film, television and animation industry is experiencing a period of sustained success and critical acclaim. For example, over the last number of years, Irish talent has been a consistent presence at the Academy Awards®, with Nora Twomey’s debut animated feature, The Breadwinner, leading the Irish charge at the most recent ceremony alongside other nominations for Irish talent including Saoirse Ronan, Consolata Boyle, Martin McDonagh and Daniel Day-Lewis. The industry’s current flourishing is the result of the IFB’s years of investment in Irish creative filmmaking talent, made possible through consistent Government backing as well as Section 481, which plays a crucial role in attracting inward production to Ireland.
This morning’s announcement of the unprecedented commitment of Government funding to Irish culture is unequivocally positive and welcomed news for the sector and will facilitate the IFB in unlocking the full potential of our ever-evolving industry. The feature film, TV drama and TV animation sector alone has an estimated annual spend on personnel working in Ireland and goods and services sourced in Ireland of approximately €250 million and the Gross Value Added of the sector as a whole exceeds €1 billion annually. This growth is a testament to the importance and strength of Irish creativity, which, despite austere but necessary cutbacks in recent years, found its voice and ability to flourish during adversity. As we wait for the publication of the Olsberg SPI Report, which will make recommendations for the audio-visual sector to promote growth and development over the next five years alongside the recently publishing BAI/IFB Crowe Horwarth Report in respect of a strategy for the development of skills within the sector, this morning’s announcement will allow the IFB to fully capitalise on these recommendations to secure the industry’s future and through Screen Training Ireland, continue to develop and train a multi-faceted skills force who can continue to compete on the international stage.
For the IFB, this enhanced commitment to culture is crucial because it will allow us to build on Ireland’s international reputation as a centre of excellence for media production. With the possibility of more international co-production opportunities, we will seek to develop and produce more large-scale feature co-productions such as Oscar favourites, Brooklyn and Room, as well as supporting wonderful Irish films such as Michael Inside and Kissing Candice. The additional capital funding also means that not only can we increase the work we have in development, but also projects will be able to spend longer in development to ensure they are in their best possible state before entering production. We are also delighted that the increased funding will also include funding to encourage the production of new Irish TV drama content as well as a Regional Production Fund aimed at assisting with the cost of production outside of Dublin. In 2017 alone, the IFB supported production activity in Galway, Roscommon, Cork and Kilkenny as well as supporting the filming of George R.R. Martin’s Nightflyers in the newly opened Troy Studios in Limerick. In 2017 and into 2018, the IFB-supported production spend outside of Dublin will be €46.7 million. As the IFB seeks to expand on this by promoting and encouraging regional production activity, this new fund will prove integral to maximising the potential of the whole of Ireland to support screen content production.
Finally, I would like to once again thank our Government for recognising the centrality and necessity of arts and culture to Irish life. Ireland has a long and diverse history of storytelling and creativity, and the IFB has always prided itself on providing a platform for our uniquely Irish stories to come to the fore — at both a domestic and international level. However, the intrinsic value of creative storytelling on screen — to nationhood, identity, wellbeing, heritage and indeed the economy — can sometimes be overlooked or undermined. We are thrilled that this morning, the Government has established Irish arts and culture as the locus from which so many elements of our lives emerge. It is reflective of, and connected to, everything we do and who were are. For the IFB, today’s announcement is not just a recognition of the contribution of our industry to the economy, but it is a celebration of the Irish writer, director, producer, actor, cinematographer, editor and screen animator — a celebration of the Irish artist on screen.
— Dr Annie Doona
Chair, Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board