The Arts Council understands Arts Participation to be an important area through which it protects and promotes the diversity of cultural expressions in line with the UNESCO convention. Arts Participation is a core value across all areas of the Arts Council’s work as reflected in the current Mission Statement, which commits to increasing public access, participation and engagement in the arts. Due to the diverse nature of the artists, groups and communities involved in Arts Participation, the Arts Council sub-divides the area into five different strands, each with its own set of knowledge, expertise and cross-sector partnerships. These include: Arts and Health; Arts and Disability; Cultural Diversity and the Arts; Arts and Communities; and Arts and Older People.
The Arts Council’s approach towards access and participation is built on a commitment to ensure that those who are particularly vulnerable to social exclusion have opportunities to access and participate in the country’s artistic and cultural life, at least to the extent that is the norm in Ireland. It acknowledges the value of this approach, not only in terms of cultural equity but also in terms of informing and enhancing arts practice, enabling a diversity of voices and perspectives that enrich the arts in Ireland. The Arts Council has undertaken a five year programme of policy development in this area, with an emphasis on the areas of Cultural Diversity, Arts and Health and Arts and Disability.