Thursday 8 December 2016

Lip service and neglect - our official arts policy

Published 21/05/2016 | 02:30

Directors Lenny Abrahamson (third from left, front row) and Jim Sheridan (front centre) with James Hickey, chief executive of the Irish Film Board, and fellow actors and producers at the launch of the IFB’s 2016 schedule of productions. Abrahamson has taken to the national airwaves this week to argue for the importance of the arts for Ireland. Photo: Damien Eagers
Directors Lenny Abrahamson (third from left, front row) and Jim Sheridan (front centre) with James Hickey, chief executive of the Irish Film Board, and fellow actors and producers at the launch of the IFB’s 2016 schedule of productions. Abrahamson has taken to the national airwaves this week to argue for the importance of the arts for Ireland. Photo: Damien Eagers

When people around the world hear the word 'Ireland', what springs to mind? Chances are that the arts, culture and heritage - and well-known figures associated with them - dominate the list, because our creativity as a nation is one of our hallmarks.

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In literature, film, theatre, art, dance and music - in so many disciplines, we produce premier league artists who magnify Ireland's reputation and influence. And the benefits are tangible: their achievements help to generate revenue and jobs.

Quite rightly, we pride ourselves on being an imaginative people. Indeed, our politicians are quick to use it as a calling card. When gifts were required for Enda Kenny's visit to the White House on St Patrick's Day last year, hand-printed poetry books by WB Yeats were chosen. So it's surely a given that the arts ought to be stimulated and expanded. Any outlay repays dividends exponentially, not just in the economic sphere, but by enhancing our standing.

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