Monday 22 January 2018

Arts world 'must build on the legacy of centenary celebrations'

Taoiseach Enda Kenny lays a wreath at the Cenotaph in Enniskillen for Remembrance Sunday. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Taoiseach Enda Kenny lays a wreath at the Cenotaph in Enniskillen for Remembrance Sunday. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Declan Rooney

Speakers at NUI Galway's Centenary Conversations have called on the Government to continue to invest in the arts to ensure the 2016 celebrations leave a lasting legacy.

The chief executive of the Irish Film Board, James Hickey, said it was vital that the momentum gained by the arts in the last year is built upon.

"It is tremendous that culture has come to the centre of political dialogue in Ireland, particularly with the minister having come forward with the 2025 draft policy document," Mr Hickey said.

"There is huge potential for Irish creative talent. Irish creative talent has already shown itself and that it is possible to create work not just for Ireland but for a world stage.

"Politically it is really important that we continue this work, don't lose the momentum that has been achieved by the work in the Department of Arts and in the Government overall. If we can continue that momentum it will be a great success for Ireland."

Earlier in the three-day conference, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Arts Minister Heather Humphreys said the arts would be central to their future plans, and Mary McCarthy, chair of Culture Ireland's Advisory Committee, called on them to back up their promises.

The centenary talks was a landmark conference that formed one of the final events of the 1916 official State commemorations.

RTÉ director-general, Dee Forbes, was one of the speakers and insisted that government funding will be crucial to how the national broadcaster covers similar events to 1916 in the future.

"Something has started this year and we now need to capitalise on it," she said. "We have a baseline on which we have to build. There have been many proud moments for the entire country and now it's about building on them.

"It's about having a vision, in my mind, for the next five or six years about how we can now treat those very important anniversaries and what is the role of all of us in doing that."

Ms Forbes also discussed the importance of the creative industries as a "contributor to Irish society both at home and abroad".

She also vowed to do "whatever it takes" to protect the future of the Irish language.

Ms Forbes insisted that giving coverage to the Irish language is something that RTÉ takes very seriously, but that she believed that more efforts need to be made to develop language skills in the educational system at the same time.

Ms Forbes was responding to a question from Anne McCabe, artistic director of the national Irish language theatre, An Taibhdhearc.

The artistic director said she was "worried" about the future of the language, and that she "sometimes feels like an alien speaking Irish".

Irish Independent

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