The Arts Council this year marks the 70th anniversary of its very first meeting on 25th January 1952. Throughout the year there will be a series of events and initiatives to celebrate this landmark anniversary.
On Tuesday 25th January 2022 the Arts Council celebrated seventy years since its first meeting in 1952. Over the course of 2022, the Arts Council will announce a diverse programme of events aimed at bringing art into the home of every citizen in Ireland, inviting debate around the future of the arts, connecting individual artists’ stories to audiences around the country, all supported by a vibrant social media campaign.
Speaking of the anniversary, Prof. Kevin Rafter, Chair of the Arts Council said:
“Over the past seventy years, the Arts Council has seen its funding increase from an initial £1,100 in 1952 to a record level of €130 million in 2021 and 2022. This is a signal of the central importance of the arts to Irish society and that has been particularly recognised during the Covid crisis. This anniversary year will be important in ensuring the arts remain central to our national recovery.”
Maureen Kennelly, Director of the Arts Council said:
“In 1952 we supported just four art forms – Architecture, Music, Sculpture and Theatre. That has now expanded to cover the disciplines of Circus, Dance, Film, Literature, Opera, Street Arts & Spectacle, Traditional Arts, and Visual Arts. The potential for the arts sector is immense and our Paying the Artist, Equality, Human Rights and Diversity, and Spatial policies will enable us to build the brightest possible future for artists and audiences”.
Speaking about the anniversary, Minister Martin said:
“I congratulate the Arts Council on 70 years of supporting, stimulating public interest in and promoting our treasured Arts. My department looks forward to working with the Arts Council to ensure that the arts profession is funded and continues to play a central role in our society, as the recovery takes hold.”
The Arts Council continues to expand and develop audiences for the arts with significant partnership and investment in local authority arts offices & arts centres, festivals, the establishment of Creative Schools to nurture young creators, and the stewardship of Culture Night since 2020. The Arts Council Collection, established in 1962, aims to support working artists and to enable the public to engage with these works of art through exhibitions. It now holds over 1,200 works. Above all, the Arts Council celebrates the artists and organisations who have been funded over the past seventy years. Their hard work and endless creativity ensure that Ireland continues to produce art of the highest calibre.
Above all, the Arts Council celebrates the artists and organisations who have been funded over the past seventy years. Their hard work and endless creativity ensure that Ireland continues to produce art of the highest calibre.
The first council meeting began at 3:30pm on Friday 25th January 1952 at number 45 St. Stephen’s Green. The meeting was attended by seven people; Patrick J Little TD (appointed Director); Mon Pádraig de Brún; Dr. Richard Hayes; Mr. Thomas McCreevy; Mr. John Maher; the Earl of Rosse.
Dr William O Sullivan was appointed secretary and Dr Alfred Chester Beatty sent his apologies. In an unusual sign of consensus, the council meeting was addressed by both Taoiseach John A. Costello and opposition leader Eamon de Valera. The presence of both men was a signal of how important public funding of the arts through the Arts Council was considered. The role of Director of the Arts Council was part time until 1973. The longest standing Directors were Rev. Father Donal O’Sullivan 1960-73 and Adrian Munnelly 1983-96 and the Director of shortest tenure was Rt. Rev. Monsignor Pádraig de Brún, Jul 1959 – Jun 1960 who sadly died while in office. Many men, among them two priests, have been directors of the Arts Council but recent years have brought more women directors into the fold – Patricia Quinn, Mary Cloake, Orlaith McBride and current director, Maureen Kennelly.