| 14.2°C Dublin

Mike Diskin

Backroom boy was regarded by many in the arts community as one of their biggest advocates, writes Emer O'Kelly

Mike Diskin was a local man. Not many people beyond the confines of the arts community in the west of Ireland, specifically Galway city, had heard of him. And that is a compliment to someone who worked in a world where relentless self-promotion is the norm.

He was the manager of the Town Hall Theatre and the Black Box Theatre in Galway until he died last weekend, working almost to the end of a long and debilitating illness. (Earlier in his career, he had worked with the Lyric Theatre in Belfast.)

He was passionate about the arts, specifically about theatre, but it was as they say a long way from them he was reared.

Michael Diskin held a Ph D, gained at Strathclyde University after graduation from NUI Galway in his native county. The doctorate, however, was in politics, not any aspect of the arts, specifically in the politics of Ulster Unionism.

As a young graduate, he worked as an adviser to the Japanese Embassy in Dublin, and went on to become a tax consultant with accountants Craig Gardner.

But the arts were at his core, and after settling back in Galway (he was born in Salthill) he ran the Galway Arts Centre, before going on to become administrator of the Galway Arts Festival.

But there was a bolshie side to Diskin, as evidenced by his work with Project '06, the 'alternative' and defiantly contrarian arts festival organised some years ago in Galway.

Mike Diskin was the quintessential backroom boy, but very many of the artists who live and work in the Galway area regarded him as one of their most passionate advocates, and he was that sometimes rare breed of arts administrator: he didn't lose sight of the artistic wood for the administrative trees.

He also never lost sight of the political streak in his make-up: one of his last organisational events was a local arts hooley for our now President, as Mr Higgins set off on his electoral campaign.

Mike Diskin was only 49: far too young to die.

Sunday Independent