Friday 23 February 2018

Artists living in a 'police state'

Sir -- An ugly truth is revealed by Jerome Reilly in his article 'Artist who refused to be gagged withdraws from council exhibit' (Sunday Independent, October 31, 2010).

Here is an example of a terrified local arts office censoring an exhibition of art for fear of the wrath of the Arts Council. Offaly's Arts Officer, Sinéad O'Reilly, puts this succinctly when she appears to describe the council as ". . . a political organisation with the power to completely eliminate the arts service in Offaly if they felt warranted". So Carolina Gustavson's exhibition must be censored in case the State reacts negatively to its content.

The Arts Council does not enjoy criticism, a fact of which I have personal experience. At the same time, the council tends to support its regional arts officers blindly almost as a matter of policy, taking their opinion of what's culturally viable in a given region and what is not. Ms O'Reilly seems to imply that the council works from a political agenda and not a cultural one. I would suggest it's a mixture of the two.

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