Archive of the Arts Council
This project draws on the Arts Council's archive which is located in its office at 70 Merrion Square, Dublin 2.
The archive constitutes the historical records of the Arts Council. As a primary source of information the material offers a unique insight in to the workings of the organisation and its dealings with arts organisations, individual artists, the general public, public bodies and government departments of the day. The complete archive provides an account of all artistic activities in Ireland which the Arts Council supported.
The archive consists of four distinct components namely: annual reports (digital copies of all annual reports since 1951 are available online at the Arts Council website); agendas/minutes of monthly Council meetings; ledgers; and a file series containing the administrative records, including correspondence.
The file series, which accounts for the main bulk of the archive, serves as the main source of information for this project. It came into existence as a result of a record-keeping system introduced by the first Secretary of the Arts Council, Dr William (Liam) O’Sullivan and subsequently developed by his successor Mervyn Wall for the following 18 years. This ‘in-house’ system aimed at organising and maintaining correspondence and various documents arising from the Council’s activities.
Mervyn Wall was very conscious of history and of the importance of keeping information. He was fastidious in maintaining the simple but very effective filing system.
Oliver Dowling, Organiser and Exhibitions Officer 1967–1974
A file generally contained correspondence, notes, memos, government communications, extracts from minutes, press cuttings, catalogues, leaflets and audited accounts. A duplicate of all Arts Council letters issued were also kept on file. While file content mainly dealt with applications for financial assistance under the remit of the Arts Act 1951, files also covered policy and corporate matters.
This approach had consequences for the ongoing formation of the files series and the Arts Council archive. For nearly three decades, this record-keeping system set the pattern by which all the organisational records were captured and maintained and interrelated with the other groups of corporate documentation.
To this day, this original arrangement has been preserved.
First Arts Council file register (1951–1975)
Mervyn Wall, Secretary, Arts Council