Step up for the Arts?

Extract from speech by the Taoiseach, Mr Brian Cowen, TD, Dáil Éireann, Nomination of Members of Government, 23rd March, 2010

The revised Programme for Government sets out the priority objectives to be pursued over the period ahead. It contains a clear agenda for change and delivery across all Departments, including those which are not affected by the re-configuration which I am announcing today. All have their role to play. In this regard, I want to refer specifically to the important role to be played by the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport not only in the vital area of tourism policy and performance, but in realising the full potential of our strong performance and reputation in the area of arts and culture, and ensuring that the creative industries play their full part in the vital task of economic renewal. The Tourism and hospitality industry employs over 200,000 people and brings in over €6 billion in revenue to this country every year. We want to significantly grow this business. In order to secure better synergy with related activities, I am transferring responsibility for the horse and greyhound racing industries to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Mary Hanafin TD (Dun Laoghaire) appointed new Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport.

Read about Mary Hanifan here


A Cultural Ambassador for Ireland

Interesting announcement here with Gabriel Byrne being announced as a cultural ambassador.

What does this tell us? That Brian Cowen is at least moving the Farmleigh agenda forward, and is talking about the link between culture and the economy, and that Martin Cullen was also very vigorous in this.

I guess one simple argument to move on with is to stress the need for a strong investment in the arts here in Ireland to support the creation of the work.

If we can have a flourishing creative culture for all ages grounded in local communities across Ireland then we should be in a much stronger position to make an even bigger imapct on the world stage.

Also, international success as we know, becomes a calling card to drive tourism to Ireland, and we should also make the link that if this is the case then we need to keep our lively festivals, venues and events of all kinds to provide cultural anchorage for tourist destinations.

So the economic case is beginning to be enacted – what I hear from the streets that the absolute, intrinsic case also needs to be got over.

What do we want this government to do to show they absolutely get the value of the arts beyond direct brand/economic value?

Fine Gael Policy Interest

Sen Paschal Donohue (FG) asked Willie White (Director, Project Arts
Centre) and myself and to go for a coffee in Phibsboro, Monday, 1st March.

He re-affirmed his commitment to the arts sector, and is looking to engage
with us in developing policy to make that commitment more concrete.

We had a broad ranging chat about where were are and what could happen in
Dublin and in Ireland. Part of what we were doing was informing him of new
developments in Dublin Central, such as at City Arts, the new theatre
venue at The Plough and The Graphic Studio. People who wish to inform
Paschal of cultural activity should email him at

The upshot is that Paschal is committed to organising a cultural forum to hear the views of
Arts workers. This is influence and inform the development of Fine Gael
policy. He has also made it clear that he is willing to use his position as
Senator to advance the case for the arts.

I think this is a very welcome development and we should follow it up.

Gavin Kostick

A New Republic?

Poblacht na h Éireann.

The Arts Workers
of the
Irish Republic
To the people of Ireland.

IRISHMEN AND IRISHWOMEN: In the name of Seamus Heaney and of the dead generations of bards, writers, sculptors, painters and actors from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.

Having organised and trained her artists through her secret revolutionary organisation, the Project Arts Centre, and through her open military organisations, the Abbey and Siamse Tíre having patiently perfected her cultural quarter, having resolutely waited for the right moment to reveal itself, she now seizes that moment, and, supported by the Arts Council and the Film Board and by gallant allies in Culture Ireland, but relying in the first on her own artistic impulse, she strikes in full confidence of victory.

We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the creative ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish arts, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by poor funding and marginalisation has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people. In every generation the Irish people have asserted their right to create willfully from their own imagination: four times during the past hundred years they have asserted it through the Nobel Prize. Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in paintings, poems, plays, films and sculpture in the face of the world, we hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Cultural State, and we pledge our lives and the lives of our comrades-in-arms to the cause of free expression, of speaking truth to power, and its artistic exaltation among the nations.

The Irish Arts Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every book reader, gig-goer, audience member, opera lover. The Arts Republic guarantees freedom from religious bigotry and civil liberty through creative expression, equal rights and equal access to the arts to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the creative expression and cultural prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally through the provision of an Ark for all and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an funding system, which have divided fellow artist from fellow arts worker in the past.

Until our cameras, pens, brushes have brought the opportune moment for the establishment of a permanent National Cultural Government, representative of the whole people of Ireland and elected by the suffrages of all her men and women, the Provisional Cultural Government, hereby constituted, will administer the artistic and creative affairs of the Republic in trust for the people.

We place the cause of the Irish Arts Republic under the protection of the name of the human impulse to create, Whose blessing we invoke upon our imaginations, and we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by artistic selfishness, self-promotion and careerism. In this supreme hour the Irish Arts nation must, by its free spirit and imagination and by the readiness of its children to fulfill themselves through play for the common good, prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called.

Hello Guardian Readers

Hi All,

Interesting link – though don’t end up going round in circles if you just came from here.

UK Arts Workers should be painfully aware that there is a real fight on.

We are gearing up now in Ireland for the second year of what looks like a three year adjustment across total government expenditure. By adjustment I mean slashing cuts.

What we have done is through email and on Facebook set up Arts Workers groups (for people making their living wholly or in part in the arts) in every consituency in Ireland. Then we have gone to as many TDs and councillors as possible to make the case for the arts at a local level. We put our aims in line with the National Campaign for the Arts so we managed to make a case at local and national level.

When people are threatened with cuts and unemployment there is the tendency to be fatalistic, angry or fearful. What we are about self empowerment, pride in what we do and finding a voice to say, we live here, we contribute and we are a part of a good and flourishing society.

There’s plenty of posts here to look at, enjoy your look at things – in particular we’re pleased with our Cultural Map – citizens and politicians need to know what they have before they can be inspired to support them – so have a search for that.

Gavin Kostick

St Luke’s Round Two

Just back from a second visit to St Luke’s in Drumcondra, this time a productive meeting with Seán Nolan, on behalf of Bertie Ahern TD. We have now met all of the TDs (or their representatives) for Dublin Central.

I reiterated the arguments of our campaign; freezing Arts Council funding, keeping Arts in the portfolio of a full Minister at the Cabinet table and maintaining Culture Ireland, the Film Board and the artists’ tax exemption.

When we met Cyprian Brady TD in St Luke’s a few weeks ago he spoke of jobs and the need to support our arguments with hard facts. Since then the report commissioned by the Arts Council from Indecon International Economic Consultants has been published, making a very strong case for investment in arts and culture. I directed Seán’s attention to Page ii of the Executive Summary where it is made very clear how much employment and Gross Value Added is generated by investment. Furthermore I highlighted that in the arts sector many people are employed on a freelance basis so it’s not a matter of wage cuts, allowances and pensions but of opportunities to be employed at all. It would be much better to keep people in employment and hardly more expensive than having them on the dole. I put it that this would be money well spent when all the economic activity that is then generated by arts and culture is taken into account. Seán was impressed by the fact that our group has a strong local base but that it joined up with national initiatives, consistency in our message is important.

The Budget will be published on 9 December, a little over three weeks’ time. We must continue to make our case in the coming weeks. If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to sign up with the National Campaign for the Arts and to encourage people you know to do so also. There are over 3,000 members of Arts Workers groups around the country. If everyone signs the petition and gets two more people to do so we should get near 10,000 signatures, if not beyond, by the end of the month.


Support from Mary Upton TD (Labour)


Labour Party Spokesperson on Arts, Sport and Tourism
Thursday 05th November 2009

Upton Welcomes Report on Economic Value of the Arts

Labour Party spokesperson on Arts, Sport and Tourism Mary Upton TD has
welcomed the publication of a report commissioned by the Arts Council which
has highlighted the economic value of the Arts to the economy.

Deputy Upton commented “I welcome the publication of this report carried out
on behalf of the Arts Council into the economic value of the Arts. This
report highlights that the arts sector is worth €782 million a year to the
economy and employs 26,519 people. At a time when all Government spending is
under review in the wake of the McCarthy Report and in anticipation of the
Budget this report clearly sets out the importance of this sector to the
economy. “

Deputy Upton stated “Unfortunately the Arts, together with a number of other
areas such as Sport and Development Aid, is seen as an easy target. Arts
funding has suffered two consecutive hits in the two budgets in the last
year. With this report we can finally show that the Arts sector is a huge
boost to the economy and that cutting funding to Arts organisations will
lead to a reduction in spending and employment in the economy. But a nation
is more than its Gross Domestic Product or its economy; the Arts nurture the
spiritual and cultural elements of society. If we turn off the tap of state
support it will take years to recover. “

Deputy Upton concluded “If we want to grow our way out of this banking and
housing depression then we need to continue to support those industries that
are providing jobs and money in the economy. This report could hardly have
come at a better time as it shows the economic and employment case for
keeping supporting and sustaining the Arts and combined with the social and
cultural importance of the arts I believe the Government can no longer
countenance further disproportionate cuts in this sector.