Tuesday 16 January 2018

Emer O'Kelly: State boards should be a labour of love

If fees are abolished, there is less chance of appointments being made as party favours, writes Emer O'Kelly

When the recession began to bite deeply in 2008, there was a detailed proposal made within the Department of Arts to amalgamate a number of our cultural institutions.

The Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), the National Gallery of Ireland and the Crawford Gallery in Cork were to be amalgamated. So were the National Library, the National Archives, and the Irish Manuscripts Commission.

This was before the Farmleigh Forum where major international figures from around the world who had Ireland's interests at heart pleaded passionately for us to remember that culture was what Ireland was known for. We couldn't compete on an industrial level, but we had our literature with its poets and novelists; we had our drama with playwrights such as Murphy and Friel, we had a national theatre, the Abbey, which was known worldwide and pre-dated the State; we had a regional theatre, Druid, with a huge international reputation. We had our visual arts with painters such as Francis Bacon and Sean Scully acknowledging Irish roots, and Louis le Brocquy was still alive and working here, and Shaw, that giant of the past, cared enough about the National Gallery to endow it in his will.

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