Eligibility for Arts Act Grants has been expanded this year to include initiatives such as the youth arts scheme, community band grants, support to artists scheme and drama awards that have been cut by Offaly County Council due to reduced resources. Announcing grant details this week Offaly Arts Officer Sinead O'Reilly said we are in a new climate, but projects will still be supported as cultural development continues to be integral to building communities and promoting the county.
The Arts Act Grants provide an opportunity for community groups, artists, drama groups, bands and choirs to seek support. Applications that are "innovative, produce maximum community impact, provide quality experience and make best use of public funding" will be rewarded according to Ms O'Reilly.
Offaly County Council has also created a new scheme for festivals with an arts programme this year, which aims to reward up to five festivals that are actively building audiences and have the capacity to enhance the cultural tourism potential of the county. "Offaly has a high concentration of festivals and events, with new ones appearing almost annually," Ms O'Reilly said. "We now have 13 festivals which wholly or predominately are celebrating the arts and more are in development.
Audiences want and expect the 'wow' factor in festivals and the challenge for festival committees is how to meet and exceed that expectation, so that they are building audiences and raising the profile for their festival annually. This new scheme will reward four or five festivals who are pushing the boat out, and putting the county on the map."
Ms O'Reilly said the mammoth voluntary effort that goes into festivals is greatly appreciated.
She added that the new County Arts Plan 2012-2016, which will be brought to council for approval for public consultation shortly, highlights a number of other ways festival development can be supported, such as sharing resources and working with tourism agencies to create a greater spotlight for Offaly festivals.
Application forms and guidelines for Arts Act Grants can be downloaded from www.offaly.ie and queries are welcome on email to firstname.lastname@example.org or over the phone to 057 9357400.
The closing date for applications is Friday, March 9, at 3pm.