Saturday, 18 April 2009

ARTS MINISTER ON BUDGET CUTS TO THE ARTS



Here are the official comments on the Supplementary Budget, April 2009, by Martin Cullen TD, Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism.

Minister Cullen said: “The Arts, Sport and Tourism sectors are important drivers within the economy - both as contributors to economic growth and to employment levels. One fifth of the working force in our country earn their living from tourism/hospitality, arts and sports. Between them they generate almost six and half billion euro in foreign currency earnings per year.”

With particular reference to Arts and Culture the statement said:

Expenditure in relation to the Arts, Culture and Film sector has reduced by €41m from €221m in 2008 to €180m in 2009, a reduction of 18.5%. Within this, the reduction in relation to current expenditure has been 6% while the reduction in relation to capital expenditure has been 42%, owing primarily to the completion of once off major capital projects such as the Wexford Festival Opera House and the Gate Theatre extension.

The Minister said: “The bulk of the cuts in this sector have been concentrated into capital expenditure to protect day to day expenditure and ensure venues remain open, job losses are minimised and the contribution to cultural tourism enhanced." Pre 2009 commitments in respect of local arts and culture (capital) infrastructure will be honoured. Current funding to the Arts Council, the state agency which develops and supports the arts in Ireland will be confirmed on the publication of the Revised Estimates.

OK. 'Cultural Tourism' is all very well but day-to-day, your average living, breathing, working individual artist is not that concerned with Cultural Tourism. She is concerned with having the time and space to practice her art and with, somehow, earning a living from it. Swinging cuts in the Arts Sector are not good for that individual artist.

I think the Arts needs a department of its own and should not be lumped in with Tourism, which has much more commercial concerns. Or with Sport, which gets ENORMOUS corporate sponsorship and media coverage.

6 comments:

OSLO said...

Maybe it's a question of marketing, Nuala. By putting the arts in with tourism, the implication is that everyone in the country benefits from investing in it. There is a danger I think that while the government is cutting back on things like child allowance and people are taking pay cuts, money going into the arts is seen as a luxury Ireland can't afford. Of course, this is twaddle but I'm being devil's advocate here and assuming that, unfortunately, the majority of people in Ireland won't have much sympathy for those trying to earn a living by writing/drawing/creating - or at least they won't want to subsidise artists. I hope I'm wrong. Am I?

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

Hi Johanna,
I know what you mean. Irish people are SO critical of what other people do and/or earn. There was a bunch of long-term unemployed people on the radio yesterday who admitted they don't want to work, but that didn't stop them from complaining savagely about Polish people working here!!!

There is a perception that the arts should be low priority and , yes, we ALL want a decent health and welfare system, but neither will the arts go away, even when not well funded.

And, sometimes, the arts that get promoted for tourism is of the twee, diddly-eye variety (I'm thinking Bunratty & the endless John B Keane plays that run all summer in the national theatres...)

It's a hard one. Most artists, I would say, don't benfit from tourism. They are much more lilely to need the support of their local audiences and County Councils. If tourists/tourism becomes part of that, all to the good.
In my experience, it is rarely tourists who support lit fests or arts fests, but enthused locals and writers.

Am I making sense? I get a bit ranty and incoherent (even to myself) about these things!

Merc said...

It's funny how governments never seem to know where to put the arts. The former Oz government lumped the arts in with telecommunications; the present one has the arts in with the environment, water and heritage. At least now the arts are considered necessary for survival, but only after heritage. Could it be that there's something subversive about creativity?

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

Telecommunications?! That's utterly bizarre. Environment and heritage makes some sense, but it all gets spread very thinly when there are so many strands to the depts.

Ours used to be in a dept called 'Arts, Heritage, the Gaeltacht and the Islands'. The 'Gaeltacht' is the Irish-speaking part of the country, and the Islands, I guess, some of them are like heritage sites.
It made more sense than sport and tourism, for sure.

OSLO said...

Your comments make total sense, Nuala. I just think the chances of getting funding without people complaining about it might be higher if arts is seen as an investment that will benefit brand 'Ireland' rather as a stand-alone entity at the moment - even if brand 'Ireland' is of the diddly-eye variety. I'm talking crap of course; it's just a notional theory and I have no clue about the reality. In an ideal world, the arts would merit a department of its own and not be lumped in with anything; you're right. Sighs for ideal world.

artyfeminist said...

I totally agree with you Nuala, I absolutely do not think that Art should be lumped with Sports and Tourism. We seemed to have had some issues, definitely in the last 8 years since I have lived here in Ireland, especially the brouhaha over the failed 2002-2006 plan. Such a shame that when the going gets tough funding in the arts is always the first to go. Art is a cultural necessity!

On a tangental note - I taught a lecture in Feb for an Irish Studies class looking at Paul Henry's work and how his painting helped to support tourism through specific views of the West of Ireland. Interesting to see that the class was familiar with the images but not the artist himself.