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‘After Hours’– Minister Martin announces up to €1,000,000 in funding for local museums and galleries across the country to support the Night-Time Economy

The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin T.D. has today (Wednesday, 17 May), ahead of International Museum Day, launched a late night museum pilot scheme in support of the Night-Time Economy. The “After Hours” strand builds on the learnings from last year’s pilot Night-Time Economy Support Scheme and aims to support small museums and galleries across the country to open later, programme new live events and encourage diversity of offering in small towns and villages across the country. 


Members of the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland (MSPI) and the Irish Museum Association can apply for up to €10,000 in funding to host late night events this year. Events can include live music, live DJ, dancing (performative or participatory), exhibitions, poetry readings, comedy shows theatre, film, live podcasts, storytelling, classes and wellbeing initiatives. National Cultural Institutions can also avail of this funding to build on the success of last year’s later openings and events which included the National Concert Hall’s sold-out Haunted Dancehall music festival.


Speaking at the launch of the scheme in the Little Museum of Dublin, Minister Martin, said:


“International Museum day is being marked this  week and we celebrate how Museums and Galleries throughout the country are the beating heart of culture in our communities. They are the keepers of our history, reflect our cultural identity and provide a space for creativity which future generations can enjoy. They play a vital role in smaller towns and villages supporting open conversations, promoting positive mental health and are inclusive to all.  A thriving Night Time Economy is valuable to communities and I would like to encourage local museums and galleries to look at their spaces through a late night lens. This support announced today aims to welcome new audiences through a variety of innovative programming and activities. Bringing life to longer evenings for both communities and tourists alike.”


The Report of the Night-Time Economy Taskforce, published in September 2021, aims to create a more diverse Night-Time Economy sector for both the local community and visitors alike.  Ireland’s cultural institutions, local museums and galleries have an important role to play in this, both by extending their opening hours into the later evenings, and through making their infrastructure available to provide the space/facilities for diverse types of night-time activities.  Increased opportunities can be developed through collaboration between institutions and more diverse partners.


Last year’s Night-Time Economy Support Scheme provided support for cultural activity in pubs, nightclubs, cafés and other suitable licensed and unlicensed premises during off-peak times.   This call for funding will be targeted at museums and galleries and offered to those museums who are members of the Irish Museums Association and also museums who are members of the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland.  This can reach over 80 museums and galleries in towns and villages across the country. The scheme has been developed in conjunction with the Irish Museum Association, The Heritage Council and Fáilte Ireland. Support will be offered by way of a grant payment of up to €10,000 per museum and they will be required to open later and/or schedule events for a minimum of 4 nights until at least 9pm. Additional funding may be considered if a more ambitious programme of openings is proposed and funding allows.


Last year, the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media provided funding towards later night openings for the National Cultural Institutions (NCIs). It is hoped this funding will deepen and build on the pilot’s run last year, creating greater knowledge in the NCI’s about what is sustainable in the long term for late night programming going forward.


Virginia Teehan, Chief Executive of The Heritage Council, said:

“The Heritage Council is committed to ensuring our heritage in all its forms and that it is as accessible as possible to as many as possible. By supporting late night events in our museums and galleries, this pilot scheme is sure to increase accessibility to our cultural heritage for new audiences, but will also facilitate the creation of new and interesting works. Our Museum Standards Programme for Ireland has been hugely successful in raising the quality of our museums across the country. We know how dedicated our accredited museums are to upholding standards of excellence and I’m confident that the museums who benefit from the scheme will provide an excellent experience to visitors.”

Gina O’Kelly, Director of the Irish Museums Association, said:

“Our museums provide creative spaces for visitors to connect with culture in ways that are relevant and meaningful to their lives and, as such, are ideally placed to support Government efforts to develop a more diverse night-time economy. The support announced today extends a welcome opportunity for our museums to not only explore sustainable after-hours access and enhance participation in their programmes and events, but also to reach new and under-represented audiences and provide a vibrant night-time alternative for both their communities and visitors to their localities.”

Minister Martin also took the opportunity to welcome the recruitment process now underway in 5 of the 9 locations selected for a Night-Time Advisor which the Department is supporting:


I welcome the progress made across the five local authorities who have now kick-started the recruitment process for new Night-Time Advisors.  Thank you to the teams in Cork City, Dublin City, Kilkenny, Drogheda and Limerick who have announced the recruitment of these vital posts and I expect the remaining four, Galway City, Longford, Buncrana and Sligo, to get underway shortly.  These posts will bring much needed strategic support, local engagement and drive for a more vibrant and diverse night-time economy. Schemes such as the one being announced today will be a great vehicle for these advisors as they work to develop ambitious and exciting plans for their areas.”



For further information, click here for guidelines and application form.