Willie White Article on Arts Council Cuts

There is an article in today’s Irish Times by Willie White, the director of the Project Arts Centre. He writes about the current difficulties facing arts organisations since funding decisions were announced at the beginning of the month. He also expresses concern over funding cuts targeting younger artists and the general slowness of the Arts Council in making funding decisions. below are some excerpts:

“Even those with only a passing interest will have noticed this week some complaint and consternation around the Arts Council’s cuts to clients. The cuts were, in many cases, greater than its own cut in the December budget and some longstanding clients have had their funding halved or taken away completely.

The talk now is mostly of unjust treatment of existing clients who are experienced artists, but the understandable protests and letters to the editor threaten to obscure what is, in my opinion, another pressing issue. A generation of new artists has long felt overlooked for funding and the boldness of the Arts Council’s actions has so far not translated into a remedy for this. The council says it has earmarked 20 per cent of funding for one-off projects and awards. There is no chance this money will be available to artists until after project grants announced just this week have been processed, most likely in the summer. This is late in the day to plan activities for 2010. For most of the year the public will see less art and not much of it will be made by people under 35.

Artists who have had regular funding withdrawn have been encouraged to apply for other awards and face at least a nine-month hiatus since making initial applications in September 2009, before they know if they can move forward.”

“Unfortunately the Arts Council’s current way of doing business seems unnecessarily slow and not very smart. The reason for the tardiness of the council’s process can’t simply be a consequence of December’s budget. It was two months after the budget, and five months after applications closed, that the recent decisions were communicated and at that the work is only half done. Apart from the nuisance for some lucky clients, having to start planning in earnest for 2010 in the second month of the year, independent artists, those who work outside a company structure, have once again to wait even longer for news of possible funding. It is hard to reconcile this with a commitment to supporting artists to make work and to enabling more people to experience the arts in 2010.”

Five Ways Culture Can Save Us

There is an article in todays Iirsh Times that claims “the arts cement our reputation abroad, are crucial to our smart economy, provide employment at home, fuel cultural tourism, and help form the nation’s psyche – they are vital to our national recovery”.

So hopefully the government will pay attention when they put together the next budget.

Full text here

Irish Art Museums Told To Be “More Populist”

The assistant secretary general at the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism, Niall O’Donnchu, has written to the directors of several national institutions, including the Irish Museum of Modern Art (Imma), the National Gallery of Ireland and the Crawford Art Gallery, suggesting they seek out “commercial opportunities” for their organisations, and adopt “more populist” exhibition policies.

A copy of one of the letters, seen by The Irish Times, states that while acknowledging that the institution already pursues “commercial opportunities and businesses . . . We would ask, however, that you and your board take a focused opportunity to examine afresh whether all commercialisation and commodisation [sic] opportunities are being exploited to the maximum by you”.

After querying the institution’s exploitation of merchandising and related activities, the letter also examines policy and programming and asks: “Could your exhibition policies be more populist?”

Quoted from an article in yesterday’s Irish Times – full text here