Tuesday 26 September 2017

Aosdana is elitist but that should not be a bad thing

The association needs to stop sulking and instead lead the charge for renewal

DECISION: John Banville resigned his membership of Aosdana when he achieved fame and financial security so as to allow another artist to be appointed in his place. Photo: Tony Gavin
DECISION: John Banville resigned his membership of Aosdana when he achieved fame and financial security so as to allow another artist to be appointed in his place. Photo: Tony Gavin

Emer O'Kelly

ONE, two, three, let's all raise a sneer at Britain's class-ridden, elitist society, so unlike our wonderful republic of equality, where everyone is called by their first name ... and above all, everyone is an artist. So let Samuel Beckett, John McGahern, Brian Friel, Sebastian Barry, Finghin Collins, John O'Conor, Tom Murphy, Camille Souter, Anne Madden, Dorothy Cross and Jennifer Johnston all get back in their elitist boxes and stay there.

That, in a nutshell, is what lies behind the incessant and unrelenting criticism of Aosdana, the self-regulating association of artists which is administered by a registrar from the Arts Council, but is independent of the council.

Many people, arguably the majority of those who are even aware of its existence, regard Aosdana as 'elitist' and therefore, in that time-worn, dreary phrase "not part of what we are". The truth is that it is elitist; but not elitist enough. Another problem is that its members buy into the populist notion that elitism is bad, and keep denying elitism.

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