Bridging Cultures and Fostering Artistic Growth: Enhancing Support for Irish Artists Abroad 

Erasmus University Rotterdam - Cultural Economics and Entrepreneurship - Study the business of art

Caoimbhe Molly Crowe 


Topic: Policy Brief - Future it again

Title:  Bridging Cultures and Fostering Artistic Growth: Enhancing Support for Irish Artists Abroad 

Nurturing Irish Artists Abroad: Cultivating Cultural Connections and Support

This policy brief is intended for readers who are interested in learning more about the opportunities and difficulties faced by contemporary visual artists who have emigrated from Ireland to Germany and are working and living there. It addresses the visual arts as Hesmondhalgh (2021) describes as belonging to the Peripheral cultural industry. This Brief aims to create a deeper understanding and establish an appreciation of Irish artists abroad and open opportunities for the initiative called Culture Ireland, which is a division of the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport, and Media that promotes Irish arts worldwide. Culture Ireland aims to support establishing networks for these artists in unfamiliar surroundings in the context of living and working abroad for an extended period. (Culture Ireland, 2023)

The term, Irish diaspora refers to the dispersion of artist and their work from their country of origin, which in the case of Irish artists has been influenced by historical, political, and cultural elements that involve emigration, colonialism, and the Troubles following British imperialism. In the late 1980s, this led to Irish artists that have been driven into various European countries for reasons such as cultural exchange, economic opportunities, and artistic inspiration. It is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that is accompanied by diverse experiences of Irish artists abroad. (O’Kelly, 2014) The Irish diaspora has contributed to the global cultural landscape. It is recommended to continuously create opportunities for support of Irish artists that are promoting Ireland's cultural heritage and identity globally.

This policy brief has the opportunity to address this matter and establish an understanding and appreciation for Irish artists that artistically felt the need to leave their country of origin to create and advocate for their cultural heritage abroad.

This can be implemented by creating a specified program for Irish and German Artists that have emigrated from their country of origin in this case, to or from Ireland and Germany. This program showcases the cultural integration of both cultures within the context of changing and adapting both cultural identities. This policy brief seeks to relocate the funds and specify this initiative's objectives towards a dedicated program for artists. The goal is to strengthen the cultural relationship between these two cultures by showcasing artist and their work that addresses the expression of emigration into a new culture, which evidently shapes the European cultural identity.

Further, aside from showcasing their work in a dedicated exhibition that can be carried out at Art Cologne and Documenta Kassel it also offers visual artist administrative support in terms of business consultancy that opens doors for solo exhibitions.

Exploring Challenges and Opportunities for Irish Artists Abroad: Navigating Artistic Principles, Cultural Contexts, and Integration

Artists often work under the theory that Caves (2000) describes as, Art for art's sake, which can be understood as artists having an intrinsic motivation to create. Often, they work in humdrum jobs that do not give them satisfaction but that support their self-sufficiency for them to create a body of work. This principle can affect how contracts between artists and art market gatekeepers are formulated.

According to Caves (2000), the organization of the creative industries relies heavily on contracts linking creative and humdrum agents. In the visual arts sector, artists often struggle to rely on gatekeepers in the long term since contracts often have no explicit duration.

Looking at this from an artistic logic, the primary intention of contributing to art as a greater good does not always align with the economic logic that is orientated on the market, which operates cost-efficiently and measures the quality and quantity in order to legitimize the production on its market value. The primary intention is the exchange of the output on the market rather than creating art for the art's sake. Looking at how contracts for visual artists are typically created within the theory of Caves (2000), there is a need for support for visual arts to secure business growth.

Additionally, the key challenges that visual artists from Ireland are facing are that it is difficult to cope with the emotional and psychological tolls of living and working in a foreign environment which led to isolation, homesickness, and an overall cultural shock. Further, facing the aftermath of British colonialism, Irish artists and culture today are confronted with stereotypes about Irish art, culture, and identity. This evidently limits opportunities for Irish artists in certain countries. For some artists, facing these challenges and limitations due to their cultural identity and artistic style illustrates one facet of the Irish artistic diaspora. The Irish diaspora is demonstrated a surprising durability in facing challenges in cultural differences and the financial pressure that accompanies settling into a new environment abroad. (O’Kelly, 2014)

From a European perspective, it is challenging to understand how Irish artists have been engaged with and received by different European countries. Overall Germany has been demonstrating a greater interest and appreciation compared to other nations.

Throsby (2001) understands cultural products have aesthetic, educational, or entertainment purposes. He developed the concentric circle model which has visual art as a core driver for other cultural sectors in a ratio from creative to commercial. Following this model, it is essential for the cultural industries of Ireland to promote the Irish visual art sector on a national and international level to drive economic growth and innovation.

Further, Becker (1982) describes the art world as consisting of all people whose activities are necessary to the production of the characteristic worlds which that world, and perhaps others as well, define as art. Therefore, art can be understood as a collective activity. Members of the art world coordinate the activities by which work is produced by referring to a body of conventional understandings, which describes the methods of how people can work together, that is embodied in common practice and in frequently used artifacts.

Adding this principle to the case of Irish artists abroad, there is a challenge navigating different cultural contexts and art scenes, which can be alienating and intimidating for artists unfamiliar with the local practices. Establishing networks and opportunities in new surroundings can be challenging for artists that are not part of established communities.

This gives Culture Ireland the opportunity to implement support for visual artists and open a partnership with the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge, BAMF) and the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building, and Community (Bundesministerium des Innern, für Bau und Heimat) also plays a role in developing and promoting integration policies. The overtime will deepen the cultural diplomacy between these two countries. Specifically, the art sector in Germany for Irish artists can gain support from this initiative that not only illustrates the challenges for Irish artists to establish themselves within the German art market but also reflects on the German integration policies that shape the German artistic Anthropocene. Germany recently adapted their immigration policies, but cultural integration remains a challenge to overcome and eliminate stereotypes.

Understanding Ecosystems and Cultural Policies: A Comparative Analysis of Ireland and Germany

In order to relocate funds and redefine the existing initiative we need to first have a deeper understanding of the ecosystems of Ireland and Germany, we need to look into the processes involved for governmental organizations such as Culture Ireland in regards to their focus group and the implemented ecosystems thinking. In comparison, Germany operates with an economic logic that can be implemented to create predictive scenarios. Germany operates on existing data; it invests in successful prospects by using knowledge about the past to derive probabilistic estimates of alternative future conditions. This is not only an analytical method but, in my opinion, explains a lot about the German mentality. This way of thinking and approaching problems differs from how the Irish government regulates the cultural sector in Ireland. Here we see an unprecedented situation with Culture Ireland. Foremost the cultural fund is administered by the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport, and Media, Catherine Martin TD, and has recently announced funding of over €745,000 for Culture Ireland’s Grants Program benefitting 101 projects across 22 countries that cover dance, film, literature, music, theater, visual arts, architecture, and circus. Culture Ireland works with the Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade to ensure the effective promotion of cultural affairs while strengthening Ireland’s cultural network abroad. The organization offers a range of funding programs to support and promote the presentation of Irish arts internationally, including a regular grants round, the See Here scheme, Delegate Scheme, and a Showcase program. (Culture Ireland, 2023)

This scheme is the first of its kind that will start from an exploratory scenario that will operate from the present and will explore the impacts of various drivers, that impact trends and interactions from now into the future. In 2025 it will have data on its success and from then on will be able to make decisions based on its success. Within the architect model for cultural policies in Ireland, the Minister who is a member of the Dáil Éireann would have made decisions based on current preferences rather than public needs or economic success, therefore most of the cultural funds would have been allocated towards Sports and Media.

Exploring Integration and Cultural Landscape: The Future of Culture Ireland and European Identity

When creating a new scenario as a specific representation of the future to facilitate thinking about the possible consequences of different events or courses of action within a systematic foresight exercise, which is the act of thinking about the future to guide decisions today, then we can image that reshaping the initiative Culture Ireland towards an economic and artistic driver for Ireland that explores the subject of integration within Germany and Europe.


In times like these in which war and governmental and imperialistic powers is changing the way European define their unity it becomes more valuable to implement initiatives that speak about how the integration and migration of two cultures shape the cultural landscape of Europe.

A future scenario that is minimizing the risk in terms of European integration means becoming more connected, certainly complex, and uncertain.


By involving the Irish Department for Foreign Affairs and the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge, BAMF) and the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building, and Community (Bundesministerium des Innern, für Bau und Heimat) are in the position to create awareness and implement opportunities for the visual art sector in Germany and Ireland to display the body of works of visual artist to tackle the Irish diaspora matters of stereotyping within the art world. We can speculate that this will open the dialogue between two emigrating cultures and start a dialogue that is confronting the questions of national identity, history, anxiety, and feeling of belonging within a European context.

         Further, the initiative of Culture Ireland will create a valuable change that will gain from this feedback, which can improve methods of analyzing the impacts in order to make choices in the future, identify trends, and open further support for visual artists abroad.


Berkers, P., (2023). Future scenarios 1,2 and 3. Future scenarios of the cultural sector. Erasmus University Rotterdam


Culture Ireland. (n.d.). About. March 20, 2023,


Caves, R. E. (2000). Creative industries: Contracts between art and commerce. Harvard University Press.


Hesmondhalgh, D. (2021). Is music streaming bad for musicians? Problems of evidence and argument. New Media & Society, 23(12), 3593-3615.


O'Kelly, S. (2014). European perspectives on the Irish artistic Diaspora. Irish Studies Review, 22(4), 383-396.


Throsby, D. (2008). The concentric circles model of the cultural industries. Cultural Trends, 17(3), 147–164.

Additional source

Young, E., & Quinn, L. (2017). An essential guide in writing policy briefs. International Centre for Policy Advocacy (ICPA).

Cultural advisor: Molly Crowe | +316 47 54 77 58 | |