Minister 'satisfied' female artists' bursary will meet criteria despite funding delay
THE Department of Culture has defended a delay in applications for a new €20,000 bursary scheme for female artists.
The 'Markievicz bursaries', named to honour Countess Constance Markievicz, were announced last November to mark the 100th anniversary since legislation was passed that allowed women to stand in general elections.
Bursaries under the scheme, offered by the Department of Culture and Heritage and the Arts Council, are expected to award up to five artists and writers to a maximum value of €20,000 per individual or group.
It was announced that applications for the bursaries would open in mid-January, with awards being announced by May.
It was recently reported that a delay in the application process was due to the bursary being contrary to equality laws, but a spokesperson for Culture Minister Josepha Madigan said that they are "still processing" the criteria for the awards.
"While it had been intended to open the Markievicz Bursaries for applications in mid-January, the Department, together with the Arts Council, is still in the process of finalising the criteria and guidelines for the programme," a Department spokesperson told Independent.ie.
"All pertinent issues, including any potential legal questions, are being considered as part of this process, however, the delay is not attributable to any single issue but rather is a result of the process of finalising all details not yet being complete."
The spokesperson added that Minister Madigan is "satisfied" the programme will meet the criteria and honour Countess Markievicz’s legacy.
"The Bursary programme will honour both the memory and legacy of Countess Markievicz, herself an artist, and the immense contribution of women to our creative arts – particularly in a period when we celebrated the centenary of women’s suffrage, the first general election where women could stand for election and the resulting first Dáil," they said.
"The Minister is satisfied the Bursary programme will meet this objective, and as soon as the Department and Arts Council have completed the process of developing the criteria and guidelines for the bursaries, full details of the opening of the programme will be announced."
A spokesperson for the Arts Council added that they are "still in discussions with the Department of Culture in relation to the guidelines, eligibility and criteria for the award".
Speaking at the launch of the bursaries last November, on the centenary of the passage of a significant piece of legislation by the Westminster Parliament in 1918, Minister Madigan said: "Today is particularly pleasing given the importance of culture, heritage and the Irish language to this Government.
"The Taoiseach has put on the record a very public commitment to double spending on arts and culture by 2025. Today is yet another important step along this road."
The Arts Council offer a variety of bursaries and funding options for those in the arts industry in Ireland, including theatre, visual arts, circus and opera performers.