Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan has been warned that the "cultural health" of the nation is as important "if not more important" than the health service itself.
Colourful arts patron Noelle Campbell-Sharp told Mr Deenihan in a letter that there was a "real and present danger of unenlightened civil servants relegating the arts as a luxury we cannot afford".
The founder of the Kerry-based Cill Rialaig Project has warned Mr Deenihan that cutting funding to the arts would be extremely damaging to Ireland.
"Compared to health, for instance, culture itself may seem to be something to be put on the back-burner," she told the minister. "You must make 'the powers that be' aware that the cultural health of the nation is of equal if not more importance as it is the very bedrock of our country's self-esteem and image abroad.
"A country will never been appreciated for the money it makes – or indeed the money it saves. But, as can be seen through the world, Ireland is recognised and admired for its cultural heritage, its literature, its poetry, its music and its art."
Referring to the arts, she told Mr Deenihan it was the Government's job "to safeguard our principal assets in the face of ignorant tabloid scare-mongering and uneducated populist opinion".
Ms Campbell-Sharp also said that Ireland had lagged behind civilised countries in making it easy for international philanthropists to invest in the Irish.