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EACEA National Policies Platform


8. Creativity and Culture

8.4 Promoting culture and cultural participation

Last update: 28 November 2023
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  1. Reducing obstacles to young people's access to culture
  2. Disseminating information on cultural opportunities
  3. Knowledge of cultural heritage amongst young people

Reducing obstacles to young people's access to culture

The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media’s core policy goal in relation to culture is “To enhance access to and to recognise the social and economic role of the arts, culture and film sectors in Ireland by promoting and encouraging artistic expression, cultural awareness and participation, through an appropriate policy, legislative and resource framework”. The Department’s website lists four key issues related to culture, which includes “To encourage the cultural institutions to maximise their appeal to the general public and, in particular, to young people, the socially disadvantaged and visitors from abroad”.


A key objective within the Arts Council Strategy is to plan and provide for children and young people. The Arts Council provides funding to a wide range of organisations and artists that develop work with and for young people. The Arts Council has a specialist team focusing on Young People, Children and Education. In addition to supporting arts organisations that work entirely with children and young people, and running specialised schemes such as the Young Ensembles Scheme, the Arts Council supports young people’s participation in the arts across the full range of funding agreements and partnerships with local authority arts offices; multi-disciplinary arts centres; and art form specific organisations. The Arts Council leads out on a number of development initiatives, including Creative Schools, Artist residencies in Initial Teacher Education, and Laureate na nÓg.


Policies and Frameworks


Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People, 2014-2020 recognises the arts as an area that contributes to young people’s wellbeing and states that the government commits to enabling greater access to arts and culture for all children and young people. Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures is Ireland’s first National Policy Framework for children and young people aged 0-24 years and is discussed further in Chapter 1.3.


A key action of Culture 2025 A National Cultural Policy Framework to 2025 is increasing access to and participation in the arts and boosting our creative industries. Culture 2025 is a policy framework that defines the scope and sets the direction of Government policy for the whole cultural sector. It is discussed further in Chapter 8.3.


The Creative Ireland Programme (2017) commits that by 2022 every child will have access to tuition in Music, Drama, Art and Coding. It sets out that ‘This will ideally be achieved through strategic alliances and partnerships between the formal and non-formal sectors’. This commitment is re-stated by the Creative Youth Plan as ensuring that every child in Ireland has practical access to tuition, experience and participation in music, drama, art and coding by 2022. Creative Ireland and Creative Youth Plan are discussed further in Chapter 8.3.


Projects and initiatives 

Facilitating young people's access to cultural environments by removing financial constraints.


Admission to many cultural locations, is free to the public, including the National Museum of Ireland, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Chester Beatty Library, and Crawford Gallery. Entry to the National Gallery of Ireland’s permanent collection is free and while there may be an entrance fee for individual exhibitions, these exhibitions are free for those under 18 years and for full-time students.


The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media’s Culture and Arts Division provides the capital infrastructure for the National Cultural Institutions, funding their day-to-day activities and by providing financial support for projects supporting the cultural infrastructure in Ireland. The Council of National Cultural Institutions (CNCI) includes representatives from each of the National Cultural Institutions. The Learning and Engagement Group of the CNCI includes representatives from the education, participation or engagement teams/departments of each institution, and is a forum for sharing policy and practice across the institutions.


The Free Educational Visits for Schools Scheme offers qualifying primary, secondary and special needs school groups free visits to certain Heritage Sites under the Office of Public Works.


Facilitating young people's access to cultural environments by removing geographical constraints.


One of the five pillars of Realising Our Rural Potential - Action Plan for Rural Development is Fostering Culture and Creativity in rural communities. The Pillar’s Key Objectives include:

  • Increase access to the arts and enhance cultural facilities in rural communities
  • Further develop and enhance culture and creativity in rural Ireland through the establishment of culture teams and creativity hubs as part of the Creative Ireland programme.
  • Progress reports on the Action Plan for Rural Development are produced every six months. and the Cultural Heritage Project is an initiative of public libraries together with local museums and archives in the digitisation and online publication of the original, the unusual and the unique material from their local studies' collections to create a national Internet resource for culture. It offers a ‘learning zone’ for primary and secondary school students, which includes resources on environmental and cultural subjects. is managed by Libraries Development, LGMA, supported by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications with funding from the Information Society Fund.


Music Generation is Ireland's National Music Education Programme. It is a Music Network Initiative, founded in 2009. It is co-funded by U2; The Ireland Funds; The Department of Education and Skills; and Local Music Education Partnerships. Music Generation believes in the musical potential and innate artistry of every child and young person and the right to access and participation as a musical citizen. It aims to transform the lives of children and young people through access to high quality performance music education in their locality. Through partnership, it creates rich and diverse ways for participants to engage in vocal and instrumental tuition delivered by skilled professional musicians, across all musical genres and styles. The initiative creates some 48,500 opportunities each year for children and young people to access tuition in their local communities.


Disseminating information on cultural opportunities

Cruinniú na nÓg (Youth Meeting) is a flagship initiative of the Creative Ireland Programme’s Creative Youth plan. It aims to celebrate and encourage children and young people’s participation in culture and creativity by providing free, activity-based action in their own locality. It is a national day of free creativity for children and young people under 18 years and specifically targets ‘Harder to reach’ children and young people. It began in 2018. In 2019 over 750 free creative events took place nationwide, while it took place online in 2019 due to Covid-19 restrictions. It is funded by Creative Ireland and each of the 31 Local Authorities lead on creating a programme of local events. It takes place in partnership with the 31 Local Authorities and is supported by the national broadcaster Radio Television of Ireland (Raidió Teilifís Éireann).


Culture Night is an annual, all-island public event that celebrates culture, creativity and the arts. On Culture Night, arts and cultural organisations and venues, from independent studios and art-spaces to national cultural institutions, extend their opening hours to allow increased access for the public. Special and unique events and workshops are specifically programmed at participating locations and all activities are made available free of charge. Different events target different age-groups, including many events targeting youth and families. In 2019, over 40 towns, villages and cities across the island of Ireland participated in Culture Night with a diverse mix of more than 2,708 free indoor and outdoor events in over 1,490 venues. Over 430,000 people attended events in Culture Night 2019. It is an initiative of Dublin City Council (Temple Bar Cultural Trust) and became a national event with the support from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media from 2008 onward. In 2020, responsibility for steering and funding Culture Night on a national level was transferred from to the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media to the Arts Council. Culture Night’s aims include to:

  • encourage more people to visit cultural venues and experience culture in their locality
  • encourage people to try new things and to get into the habit of engaging more regularly with cultural venues and activities in their locality, providing vital support for artists and arts organisations and driving investment in the cultural sector
  • promote diversity and inclusion through celebration of all cultures.


Galway, a city in Ireland, was the Cultural Capital in 2020. A key focus of was placing children and young people at the centre of Galway 2020. It targeted citizens, artists and cultural operators and those who use their creativity skills in many sectors of society. The theme of Galway 2020 was Making Waves. The year-long programme was designed to make waves across the whole of Ireland and Europe and to celebrate new voices, young voices and traditions, both new and old. Making Waves was about the renewal, disruption and transformation of culture, both Irish and European.


Knowledge of cultural heritage amongst young people

There is currently no policy provision specifically for the promotion of youth’s contact with heritage. However, there are several programmes and initiatives to support young people's discovery and appreciation of the cultural and artistic heritage of European countries.


The Heritage in Schools Scheme, run by the Heritage Council, provides a panel of 160 Heritage Specialists who visit schools throughout the country, online schools tutorials and resources for teachers. However, the scheme only supports primary schools, targeting among 4- to 12-year-olds.


SEED is a national network of educational centres and professionals with experience in Primary and Post Primary environmental education, specialising in all aspects of organic school gardening. It aims to establish living classrooms in every school to demonstrate that school gardens have unlimited cross curricular potential. It particularly ties into SESE, SPHE, Art, Languages, History and Maths curricula. SEED also develops training materials and literature for schools and runs teacher training courses through their local Education Centres. SEED is supported by the Irish National Teachers' Organisation and the majority of core members are also listed as Heritage Specialists in the Heritage in Schools Scheme.


Heritage week is an annual week in August highlighting heritage activities in Ireland. The week includes many national and hundreds of local community organisations running events throughout the country, including several events targeting young people and families. The aim of Heritage Week is to build awareness and education about Irish heritage, thereby encouraging its conservation and preservation. 2020’s Heritage Week theme is ‘Heritage and Education: Learning from our Heritage’ and includes the three sub-themes:

  • Heritage on your doorstep
  • Relearning skills from our heritage
  • The heritage of education


National Heritage Week is part of European Heritage Days. These are a joint initiative of the Council of Europe and the European Union in which over forty countries participate each year. National Heritage Week is coordinated by The Heritage Council.


Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme was the Irish Government’s programme to mark the hundredth anniversary of the rebellion of Easter 1916 (the event that is generally regarded as having led to Ireland’s independence six years later). The Programme included thousands of largely culture-based events exploring issues of identity, community, culture, heritage, and citizenship. The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth consulted with children and young people as part of the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme. It included specific events for schools and for young people.