John O'Donoghue, Irish minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, announced a 9% increase in funding for the Irish Film Board in 2004 at a briefing yesterday (Nov 13).

The increase will bring the Film Board's budget up to Euros 11.845m for next year, of which Euros 10m is for capital investment in production, development and training. This is a 10% increase in funding for capital purposes. The remaining Euros 1.845m is to cover administration costs and includes a Euros 50,000 provision to cover the Irish public servants' Benchmarking Agreement on pay and productivity.

The increase partly mitigates the aggregate 12.5% cut suffered by the Film Board in 2003 and the Minister conceded this point at the briefing. "There was a cutback in the Film Board's budget last year, that is true, but in the current climate an increase of 9% to Euros 11.845m is indicative of the fact that we are producing the funds to enable the Irish Film Board support indigenous Irish films."

The increase was welcomed by Mark Woods, recently appointed CEO of the Irish Film Board. "Given the economic situation, the Irish Film Board appreciates the Government's commitment to supporting the national film agency and this increase means we now have a solid foundation with which to consolidate on this year's successes."