Arts Council England announced -on the morning of 4 Nov 2022- the arts and culture organisations they would invest in with multi-year funding 2023-2026. Collectively, this selection will become what is known as the ‘national portfolio’.
Liverpool Irish Festival applied for this funding.
The application process was demanding, with cases for support and evidence built over years.
The Liverpool Irish Festival worked alongside several peers (in Irish arts delivery and Liverpool’s arts sector) to make their application, to avoid duplication and to show the value of collaboration. Chief in our interest is ensuring there is Irish representation within the national portfolio. This needs to reflect the creative talent and audiences within the Irish diaspora communities here and acknowledge the contributions made by Irish people to the cultural economy and reach of the national arts programme.
Ensuring Irishness is respected, understood and seen within the context of protected characteristics has been an important part of our work. Celebrating Irish creativity is our vehicle for doing this. Thus, pushing to be part of the arts portfolio has been an important focus for us.
Such funding would position the Festival within a collective of companies/venues/cultural providers, each recognised as leaders in their areas, with a responsibility to protect and develop our national arts and cultural ecology.
Liverpool Irish Festival submitted a strong bid, full of ambition. It accented our development as part of England’s cultural calendar; our wide audience reach and the platform we have created for showcasing wonderful Irish arts and cultural talent. We have been fortunate to receive project funding from Arts Council England and are keen to secure committed, longer-term funding to concentrate on building the resilience and capacity of the Festival. We aligned our bid to the Arts Council‘s Creative Case, Investment Principles and Outcomes, demonstrating our unique programme, value for money and artistic excellence. In doing so we devoured over 260 pages of guidance and committed to robust evaluation methodologies and working practices.
Unfortunately, we were not successful in securing this multi-year funding. Whilst this is disappointing, we are committed to continue to work on securing ongoing investment for the Festival. We’ll continue to lobby organisations -such as Arts Council England– to recognise the dynamic, quality-led contribution the Irish community makes daily to England’s cultural landscape.
Support and thanks
Following today’s decisions, it is proving to be increasingly important to push for Irish representation in the arts in England. To our understanding, there are no Irish led arts and culture organisations in Arts Council‘s portfolio, despite a large domestic Irish population. We encourage all our visitors, creatives and friends to help us champion Irish arts, culture and creativity and alter this for the future.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our funders and sponsors who have supported us over the years. Liverpool City Council, the Irish Government, National Lottery Heritage Fund and Tourism Ireland have made significant financial contributions. Many more have provided in-kind support. We are also indebted to the National Lottery grants programme, delivered by Arts Council England, who have provided project funding on many occasions throughout our history.
The Board and team congratulate our peers who have been successful in their Arts Council portfolio bids, including 22 Liverpool organisations and more across Merseyside. We commiserate with those who were not so fortunate (this time). “Onwards and upwards” is the only way ahead, as we continue to showcase wonderful Irish culture and try to ensure it is represented in England’s national programme.