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View Full Version : Demotion of Arts, Abolition of Heritage ? The New FG Regime



C. Flower
10-05-2016, 07:18 PM
One of many signs that we have a new government that plumbs new depths of raw anti-societal greed is the apparent demotion of Arts to a subsector of "The Department of Turf" aka the Department of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht. No Heritage. The Arts and Heritage sector is rightly, screaming about this.

https://artsmanagement.ie/2016/05/09/a-new-irish-ministry-for-the-arts-or-through-a-hedge-backwards/


Finally on Friday, the new Cabinet was announced (http://www.thejournal.ie/new-cabinet-ministers-2754691-May2016/). Some familiar faces, a few surprises, and then the biggest shock of all: the newly configured Department of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht. Cue my disbelief.

In what other European country would such a combination be acceptable, or even logical? Have the arts (and heritage, which seems to have fallen off a cliff) really fallen so low in government estimation?
Call me an optimist: in the triumph of hope over experience, Iíve perpetually believed that as the economy improved, our government might turn again to nurturing the cultural life that has actually sustained us during these last few, depressing years of recession. That it might recognise how, in spite of resources slashed and professional expertise often discredited, folks working in our cultural sector have continued doing what they love and believe in, often at great personal expense (both in terms of morale, and financially). Playwrights and novelists havenít stopped writing; actors and musicians have persisted in performing; artists continue to create work that makes us think and challenges us to look at the world anew. Museum workers, even in their dwindling numbers, welcome school groups across the country; volunteers keep heritage sites open and welcome visitors with a cup of tea; our national collections and archives continue to paste over the cracks, and keep institutions functioning in the face of disappearing funding, threats to their independence and the hiring moratorium.
What about the near-incessant stream of 1916 centenary events? Who do the government think have been producing the talks, performances, exhibitions, public events that have attracted thousands over the past few months, with many more in planning? Iím of the personal view that the commemorations have been incredibly rich, dramatically expanding public narratives that were previously frozen by polarised political ideologies. We can be proud of our centenary year to date Ė but this is because of the creatives (artists, archivists, academics, etc) and the willing public who have made it so.
Iím flabbergasted, frankly. Some will say the cabinet reshuffle doesnít matter: power has, and always will, essentially rest with the senior civil servants who actually run the Department of Arts & Whatever Else Youíre Having. But I happen to think it does matter. Do we live in a society that believes in the integrity and value of our cultural life? Why havenít we been given a government department and minister that signal a central (not peripheral) willingness to cultivate and protect our much-lauded reputation as a small, global, cultural powerhouse? All too often it feels that Irelandís cultural richness has not emerged because of government support: itís happened in spite of it.
What does this active disregard feel like on the ground? Letís just look at one slice of this Ė Irish museums Ėas I happen to be finishing writing up the results of the Irish Museums Survey (to be published in the next month). Funded by the Irish Research Council and undertaken by the Irish Museums Association and UCD, itís the first time in a decade any statistics have been collected on the museum sector (these arenít officially collected, by the way). The more sophisticated analysis will come later, but here are just a few insights into what eight years of budget cuts have achieved (some from the survey, and others from my own experience):


In 2015, 300,000 visited the Natural History Museum of Ireland (http://www.irishtimes.com/news/science/dublin-s-magnificent-dead-zoo-is-not-as-lively-as-it-should-be-1.1898155) (ah, the Dead Zoo! Beloved of generations everywhere, and annually in the top ten most visited free attractions in Ireland). It has no dedicated education staff, and only 2 curators (one of whom is the Director).
40% of the budget of the National Museum of Ireland system (http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/national-museum-closing-galleries-and-cutting-tours-due-to-shortage-of-funds-1.1936931) has been slashed since 2008. Let that figure sink in.
Thousands of tickets have already been pre-booked for the (free) exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci drawings (http://www.nationalgallery.ie/Exhibitions/Leonardo.aspx) at the National Gallery of Ireland, which opened 5 days ago. Yet a large proportion of the gallery has been closed since 2011: despite government declarations it would reopen in 2015, and then 2016, itís now slated for spring 2017 (maybe?) Apart from the loss of public access to national collections, this also means weíve had a talented museum director (as we are lucky to have in Sean Rainbird) compelled to manage a mostly-closed museum.
As part of the Museum Survey we asked 100+ museums across the country (small and large; urban and rural) what impact budget changes have made over the past five years. Here is just a small sample of the responses (more to come!):

Our heating was removed
Reception staff annual leave has to be covered by curatorial staff
A reduction in staff numbers from 28 to 5
Difficulty in paying electricity and public liability
A 70% drop in our programming budget
Unable to repair damaged roof and flood damage

Sidewinder
11-05-2016, 12:12 AM
Well what else would you expect from a political and media system that is entirely dominated by a small weird extremist cult that actively despises all things Irish, who are determined to denigrate and erase all cultural and social differences between Irish people and the Master Race?

This what 40 years of tolerating the tiny fanatic and totally unrepresentative nutbars of the cult of Cruiserology gets you.

pluralist
11-05-2016, 02:37 AM
Well what else would you expect from a political and media system that is entirely dominated by a small weird extremist cult that actively despises all things Irish, who are determined to denigrate and erase all cultural and social differences between Irish people and the Master Race?

This what 40 years of tolerating the tiny fanatic and totally unrepresentative nutbars of the cult of Cruiserology gets you.

Most Oppressed People Ever, wha'?

C. Flower
13-05-2016, 10:17 PM
Should have mentioned also, abolition of the environment.

The various infrastructural and natural resources that need to be coordinated for - say - housing, are now scattered across at least three departments. None has the word Environment in its title.

If we needed any indication that this is going to be a regime of pillaging and looting, this would be it.

C. Flower
20-05-2016, 09:00 AM
Not surprisingly, people who work in the Arts are kicking up, and neither are Irish speakers happy. As for the Environment, well I guess there is general shock and lack of grasp that it has been abandoned completely as a coherent department. Lenny Abramson put a word in with the Minister, who seems to think that "putting a word in for more money" for the Arts is what the issue is, not the lack of any grasp by government of how important culture and the arts are for our society and economy.

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/oireachtas/fluent-should-not-lecture-less-skilled-irish-speakers-humphreys-1.2652659

Donal Og
20-05-2016, 02:25 PM
Not surprisingly, people who work in the Arts are kicking up, and neither are Irish speakers happy. As for the Environment, well I guess there is general shock and lack of grasp that it has been abandoned completely as a coherent department. Lenny Abramson put a word in with the Minister, who seems to think that "putting a word in for more money" for the Arts is what the issue is, not the lack of any grasp by government of how important culture and the arts are for our society and economy.

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/oireachtas/fluent-should-not-lecture-less-skilled-irish-speakers-humphreys-1.2652659

Ah yes...all that putting a word in with the Minister stuff. Worked a treat back in the day with Haughey. You don't pay any income tax..now go away like a good lad. Seriously though ; starving the Arts and subjecting Irish to malign neglect is so shortsighted. Our language and music have never been so popular - outside Ireland anyway. Btw Humphreys is the third Minister for this department who can't speak Irish by my reckoning , so cut her some slack people. There must be some spinmeister making up these names too - Dept. of Unrelated Abstract Nouns....

Apjp
20-05-2016, 04:10 PM
Well what else would you expect from a political and media system that is entirely dominated by a small weird extremist cult that actively despises all things Irish, who are determined to denigrate and erase all cultural and social differences between Irish people and the Master Race?

This what 40 years of tolerating the tiny fanatic and totally unrepresentative nutbars of the cult of Cruiserology gets you.

I don't know if it's possible for you to be wrong on anything.

Czesc from Krakow good sir. I am enjoying my first full summer(weather's great) far away from Ireland.

Wasn't 1916 used as a marketing event sure, rather than a celebration of our history and Heritage?