The Irish Museums Association welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD, of a new €1m cultural Digitisation Scheme, which will provide grants for the digitisation and on-line access to cultural heritage collections.
The Digitisation Scheme will operate as a pilot scheme as part of the Creative Ireland Programme and will initially provide funding to the National Cultural Institutions and cultural heritage organisations which hold collections of national significance.
Speaking about this initiative, Minister Humphreys said:
"This funding scheme will help our National Cultural Institutions and a number of other cultural heritage bodies to digitise their rich and varied collections for the benefit of the public. The importance of digitisation was really underlined during the 2016 centenary year, when a number of our Cultural Institutions made a wealth of material available online for the first time.
"There is a huge appetite for high quality online cultural material. By digitising their collections, cultural institutions increase their reach well beyond those who are in a position to visit their buildings in person. Digitisation also provides a very important channel to connect with our Diaspora - which is estimated to be up to 70 million people worldwide - and in turn encourages cultural tourism.
"This investment is an important way of supporting the arts and ensuring people right across the country and indeed around the world can access our national collections. Through the Creative Ireland Programme and indeed the Action Plan for Rural Development I am aiming to ensure that communities nationwide and worldwide have access to our culture and creativity."
The Irish Museums Survey 2016 highlighted the importance of investing in digitisation of collections, with 32.2% of the 118 museums surveyed indicating that their collections were not digitised, and 85.7% of museums surveyed indicating that less than 20% of their collection was available online. One of the key recommendations of the IMA Museums Survey 2016 was additional training and resourcing in the areas of digitisation and development of digital and online strategies.