Tuesday 25 October 2016

Reduction in arts spending not as bleak as at first glance after 1916 celebrations

Published 12/10/2016 | 02:30

Arts Minister Heather Humphreys Photo: Tom Burke
Arts Minister Heather Humphreys Photo: Tom Burke

An arts cut of 16pc doesn't really sound all that pretty. Thankfully, though, the cut is not quite as bleak as it first looked when flicking through the blue Budget dossier yesterday.

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While the lump sum the Department of Arts received has dropped substantially, it is worth remembering that last year it received an extra €50m to commemorate the Easter Rising.

Now that we've paid our respects to the founding fathers and gifted every national school in the country with a Tricolour, that money is being allocated elsewhere.

It would have been nice to hang on to that cash, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen.

Despite this, there have been sizeable increases and boosts for various boards and institutions.

Last year, the Irish Film Board was extremely vocal in its demands for an increase in funding.

This rabble rousing, led by the likes of Oscar-nominated director Lenny Abrahamson, was justified, as the Film Board was hit badly during the crash - it's cash pile dropping from €20m to less than €10m.

Arts Minister Heather Humphreys has increased the funding by €2m, bringing it up to €13m.

An additional €5m has gone to the Arts Council - a 50pc jump compared with last year's increase.

It was described by chair of the Arts Council Sheila Pratschke as "a major vote of confidence".

This money will help support their 10-year strategy (Making Great Art Work), which aims to support "new generations of artists".

Willie White of the Dublin Theatre Festival said: "It's a step in the right direction."

The National Campaign for the Arts were less impressed, saying that the "€48m commemorations funding should have been fully retained for arts, film, culture and heritage".

"Regrettably, Ireland's unenviable position at the bottom of the EU league in terms of average GDP spending on the arts looks set to continue for the foreseeable future," a statement read.

Some €2m will go towards the restored wing of the National Gallery and the opening of Killarney House.

Meanwhile, funding of €5m has been allocated for the implementation of Culture 2025 and Ireland's 2016 Legacy Programme.

It's also worth remembering that of the €50m allocated for the Rising events, €32m was invested in capital like the GPO Visitor's Centre - which is not going anywhere fast.

Irish Independent

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