Maureen Kennelly appointed as new Director of the Arts Council

Maureen Kennelly has been appointed as the new Director of the Arts Council. Her appointment follows a competitive recruitment process to fill the position previously held by Orlaith McBride.

Originally from Ballylongford in Co. Kerry, Maureen Kennelly is currently Director of Poetry Ireland.

Over a two-decade career in the arts sector, she has worked with many leading organisations including the Kilkenny Arts Festival, Fishamble Theatre Company, Druid Theatre Company, Mermaid Arts Centre and the Cúirt International Festival of Literature.

She is a member of the Expert Advisory Committee of Culture Ireland and formerly a member of the Governing Body of University College Cork.

In her most recent role at Poetry Ireland since 2013 she realised the organisation’s longtime ambition in establishing the Poetry Ireland Centre at Parnell Square in Dublin.

Commenting on the appointment, Arts Council Chair, Prof. Kevin Rafter said:

‘I am thrilled to welcome Maureen to the Arts Council. She brings huge experience to the role of Director as well as a passion for the arts and the work of artists. She is an experienced leader in the arts sector.

Her commitment and energy will benefit the Arts Council and the wider arts sector. I look forward to working with Maureen to ensure more people engage with the arts and that the role of the artist in society is strengthened.

I would also like to thank the outgoing Director Orlaith McBride for her dedication to the Arts Council over the last eight years. Her time as Director has been marked by many key achievements of which she can be very proud.’

Commenting on her new appointment, Maureen Kennelly said:

‘It is an immense honour to be given the opportunity to take up the role as Director of the Arts Council. I am very excited about playing a vital part in the next exciting phase for the national development agency for the arts. I especially welcome the opportunity to lead progression around the Arts Council’s recent policies on Equality, Human Rights and Diversity and on payment for artists.

I know the arts sector is populated by talented, imaginative, hard-working, dedicated and generous individuals and by well managed and well governed organisations.

I look forward to bringing energy, imagination, motivation and clear direction in leading the Arts Council, as well as working with the dedicated staff and the Board led by Prof. Kevin Rafter.’


Maureen Kennelly will take up her role in early May 2020.

With a budget of €80m in 2020, the Arts Council is working to strengthen key arts infrastructure and organisations to develop and create great work for a wider public, and put in place a range of measures alongside awards, schemes and bursaries to improve the living and working conditions of artists.

As the national agency for developing the arts, the Arts Council is currently implementing a new three-year plan to help break down barriers to accessing the arts, and improve the pay and conditions of the artists.

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