RTÉ have announced a major international cultural partnership designed to boost Irish arts and culture across Europe.

Today in Dublin's Hugh Lane Gallery, Anne Durupty, Vice President of ARTE GEIE and Chief Executive Officer of ARTE France, and Dee Forbes, the new Director-General of RTÉ, signed an agreement that will bring a wealth of Irish cultural content to international audiences. 

Under the agreement, RTÉ will share selected music broadcasts, performances and documentaries, as well as selected concerts from the likes of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and RTÉ Concert Orchestra on ARTE’s digital platforms, enabling millions of European users to discover uniquely Irish content.

ARTE is a celebrated Franco-German public-service broadcaster which offers a wide choice of high-quality programmes to 55% of Europeans in their own language. ARTE programmes are broadcast in French and German, 24 hours a day, across Europe.

"This represents a huge opportunity for Irish artists and arts organisations, and Irish film and television content, to reach massive audiences across the entire continent of Europe," says Sarah Ryder, the Assistant Commissioning Editor for Documentary & Arts at RTÉ. "So, not only are we broadcasting to the nation, but through this partnership we're helping to bring Irish arts programmes to a broader European audience." Under the agreement, popular RTÉ arts shows like The Works Presents will be broadcast on the ARTE network. 

RTÉ now becomes ARTE’s ninth European partner. Under conditions of the agreement, ARTE and RTÉ have each undertaken to contribute a minimum of €250,000 per annum for an initial period of two years for the development of co-productions in 2017 & 2018, particularly in the fields of arts, culture, factual, history and natural history.

The agreement also provides for closer links between the two broadcasters’ online offerings, in particular through ARTE’s online platforms; ARTE Concert and ARTE in English along with RTÉ Player. Over the next two years audiences across Europe will be able to access participating Irish music events and performances via ARTÉ’s online platforms while audiences in Ireland will be able to access a rich online world of European arts, cultural and historical programming through RTÉ Player’s new arts and documentary hubs.

What's important is co-operation between European broadcasters, particularly ones who believe that culture and the arts matter, says ARTE's Anne Durupty, "and want to bring them to as wide as audience as possible. We very much want to work with people like RTÉ, who share our conviction. We shouldn't abandon these topics to big US companies - we must work together to make programmes that showcase our diversity, and celebrate the the richness and diversity of European creativity."

At a packed event announcing the partnership, the assembled audience at the Hugh Lane Gallery were treated to a musical performance from instrumentalist and Frames member Colm Mac Con Iomaire, as well as a reading from the works of Samuel Beckett by venerable thespian Owen Roe.

“This is an important partnership," says Dee Forbes. With this agreement we will enable more Irish programmes and performances to reach new European audiences. Showcasing the best of Ireland, particularly in the area of arts and culture, is something that RTÉ takes very seriously. We look forward to encouraging audiences everywhere to explore this fantastic resource.”