Re-imagining our Outdoor Public Spaces

February 11, 2021 0

The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin T.D., today announced a new funding scheme to help local authorities open up and create public spaces and facilities dedicated to the arts, culture and festivals. The scheme will be known as the Outdoor Public Space Scheme 2021.

Local authorities are invited to propose capital projects for outdoor spaces which are flexible, innovative and facilitate year-round use. Ideally projects should respond to the challenges associated with COVID-19 and support the recovery of the creative, cultural, entertainment and events sector as well as being future-proofed from a health and safety perspective. Projects should aim to deliver speedy results or actions with added benefits for tourism, and the hospitality sector.  They should also demonstrate how they will support the Night-time Economy, a priority for the Minister and the Programme for Government.  Each local authority can apply for up to €250,000 under the scheme.

The new scheme responds to Recommendation 9 of the Report of the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce.  This specifically proposed that local authorities provide artistic spaces, to improve wellbeing and that can provide year-round use. The details of the scheme have been developed in consultation with the County and City Management Association and with input from Fáilte Ireland. 

The features of this latest COVID capital fund response are as follows:

  • Funding will be available to local authorities;
  • Local authorities can apply for a capital grant of up to €250,000 for a project at a funding rate of up to 90%;
  • Funding will be awarded for projects that focus on the delivery of infrastructure to support arts, culture, creative activities, entertainment events and festivals and the Night-time Economy.
  • Local authorities should consult with Fáilte Ireland on the proposed project;
  • Eligible projects include the provision, adaptation or improvement of outdoor public spaces in population centres;
  • Local authorities should ensure that proposed facilities are relevant to local needs and circumstances;
  • All grants will be paid out on the basis of paid invoices;
  • The scheme will apply for the period of the coronavirus crisis and applications will be accepted throughout
  • Local authorities can propose suitable projects for the scheme immediately.

Minister Martin said:

More than ever we now appreciate the value of communal spaces, particularly for our artists, the culture among our communities and for people to gather in a safe environment. This move is another fulfilment of the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce’s recommendations and it is in line with the programme for government’s commitments on wellbeing. Crucially, the fund and scheme will help create new spaces up and down the country, in villages, towns and cities, to be transformed into wonderful resources for festivals, entertainment and cultural events.

Local authorities have been a crucial resource in the delivery of arts and culture interventions over many decades.  Their collaboration and efforts in the national response to the COVID-19 crisis is fully recognised and appreciated by the Government.

The pandemic has been a significant driver of innovation especially in the arts and entertainment sectors and I look forward to the creative and imaginative solutions that I know will be generated by local authorities in response to this scheme.

This funding also comes after a recent recommendation from the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce which specifically highlighted the need for outdoor public spaces in both the built and natural environment.  I know from discussions at the Night-time Economy Taskforce that this issue has also been raised by a wide range of stakeholders