Thursday, 15 January 2009

FUNDING CUT TO IRISH WRITERS' CENTRE - UPDATE

Further to my blog post of the 21st of December, the following press release just landed in my inbox. It's long but let me highlight the fact that they are having an Irish Writers' Centre Benefit night on Thursday 22nd January at 7 p.m., with leading Irish author and recent winner of the Novel category at the Costa Awards, Sebastian Barry. Tickets are €50.

The Press Release:

Ireland’s writers protest at disturbing decision by the Arts Council of Ireland to terminate funding to the Irish Writers’ Centre with immediate effect.

Ireland's literary fraternity has been stunned by the decision by the Arts Council of Ireland to terminate with immediate effect all funding to the Irish Writers Centre. Their statement, signed by a number of Ireland leading authors, including Maeve Binchy, Booker prize winners, Roddy Doyle, John Banville and Anne Enright, acclaimed International authors Richard Ford and Will Self, leading novelists, Joseph O’Connor, Dermot Bolger, John Boyne and Sebastian Barry, poets Paul Muldoon, Derek Mahon, Paul Durkin, Ciaran Carson and Ireland’s Professor of Poetry Michael Longley and literary figures such as literary agent Jonathan Williams are amongst the 55 signatories on the statement that has been circulated to all the National newspapers in Ireland and the United Kingdom expressing their dismay at this disturbing decision and calling for the urgent reinstatement of funding.

The Irish Writers' Centre, which Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney has called "a part of the literary culture", and best selling author John Boyne has described as “a part of the fabric of literature in Ireland”, is the national development agency for the development of writers and writing in Ireland where one if its primary functions is to foster and develop new writing talent so as to maintain Ireland's leading position in World literature.

Literature is a major part of Ireland's social and cultural history. The Irish Writers’ Centre was a space that writers could call their own. It is the only centre in Dublin devoted to literature that can provide an in-house space for readings, literary events, festivals, creative writing courses, developmental works and was the home to a number of writers groups and National organisations such as the Irish Writers’ Union and the Irish Translators and Interpreters Association. With the termination of funding access to these resources will be lost, leaving the next generation of Irish authors in a vacuum and having to look elsewhere for guidance and development.

If Ireland is to maintain its position as a major literary country it needs to develop new and talented writers who have access to the necessary skills, resources and outlets to further their work which, with the termination of funding to the Irish Writers’ Centre, they will find increasingly difficult.

The Irish Writers' Centre will now have to generate its own financial support to be able to provide the services we offer. To do this we have launched a donation scheme whereby you can donate money online at www.writerscentre.ie or you can send a cheque pledging your support to the centre at 19 Parnell Square, Dublin 1.

We have also set-up an Irish Writers' Centre Benefit night on 22 January at 7 p.m. with leading Irish author and recent winner of the Novel category at the Costa Awards, Sebastian Barry. Tickets are priced at €50 with all the money raised going to the Irish Writers’ Centre. Tickets can be purchased from the Irish Writers’ Centre on 01 872 1302.

With your help our fundraising target of €200,000 can be achieved and our programmes and services for writers reinstated in full.

SIGNED STATEMENT

The Arts Council has recently terminated all funding to The Irish Writers’ Centre, an important national institution for the support, development and promotion of writers and writing. While we acknowledge that cuts are inevitable in the present economic downturn, this decision is nevertheless disturbing. It comes at the end of a notably successful year for the Centre, a year which has seen audience numbers and the Centre’s participation in the country’s literary culture at an all-time high. We therefore strongly urge that this decision be reversed and funding for the work of a thriving cultural organisation (€200,000 in 2008) be reinstated urgently.



John Banville

Sebastian Barry

Maeve Binchy

Dermot Bolger

John Boyne

Liam Browne

Ciaran Carson

Prof. Danielle Clarke, University College Dublin

Harry Clifton

Dr. Steve Coleman, NUI, Maynooth

Kevin Crossley-Holland

Philip Cummings

Peter Cunningham

John F. Deane

Celia De Fréine

Roddy Doyle

Paul Durcan

Anne Enright

Prof. Tadhg Foley, NUI, Galway

Richard Ford

David Gardiner, Director, Creighton University Press

Prof. Luke Gibbons, University of Notre Dame

Hugo Hamilton

Dr Derek Hand, St Patrick's College, Dublin

Kerry Hardie

Sean Hardie

Jack Harte

Aidan Higgins

Alannah Hopkin

Jerzy Jarniewicz

Prof. Margaret Kelleher, NUI, Maynooth

Claire Kilroy

Edna Longley, Professor Emerita, Queen’s University Belfast

Michael Longley, Ireland Professor of Poetry

Deirdre Madden

Derek Mahon

Prof. Kerby A. Miller, University of Missouri

Prof. Sean Moore, University of New Hampshire

Paul Muldoon

Éilis Ní Dhuibhne

Dr. Clare O'Halloran, University College Cork

Sean O’Brien

Joseph O'Connor

Cormac Ó Cuilleanáin ("Cormac Millar")

Timothy O’Grady

Glenn Patterson

Justin Quinn

Ian Sansom

Will Self

Matthew Sweeney

Prof. Lawrence Taylor, NUI, Maynooth

Alan Titley

Shaun Traynor

Prof. Kevin Whelan, Director, Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, Dublin

Jonathan Williams

2 comments:

Women Rule Writer said...

See also an article in today's Irish Times, where IWC director Cathal McCabe defends the centre's work and spending:

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/features/2009/0115/1231738223190.html

PJ Nolan said...

interesting counterpoint to all this in today's Irish Times letters page too, from previous IWC director Peter Sirr, alongside the published petition; http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/letters/2009/0117/1232059657405.html

I have to say that I did find McCabe's 'mystified' comment a bit odd, seeing as the council seems to have raised related issues on several prior occasions?

Still, a sad day for Irish Writing. Perhaps Dublin Docklands Authority could step in to help, seeing as they're cancelling plans to erect the Gormley sculpture - saving 1.6 million in the process; http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/0117/1232059656797.html