In advance of the general election I am writing to draw your attention to government funding for the arts and, as our situation continues to improve economically, to ask you to commit to increasing that spend.
Fact – Ireland is currently at the bottom of the European League for Government Investment in Culture and the Arts.
The Council of Europe data shows that in 2012 Ireland spent just 0.11% of GDP on the arts and culture, compared to a European average of 0.6% of GDP.
This is a compelling fact and a concerning one, particularly for a country and a government that claims to honour and take pride in its rich cultural heritage, celebrated artists and world-class artistic output.
XXXXX [name of candidate], if you truly value our culture, our art and our artists, my challenge to you is to:
1. Get Ireland off the bottom of the Arts and Culture Investment League.
2. Commit to state investment in the arts of 0.3% of GDP over the lifetime of the next government, taking us halfway to the European average.
I recognise that this is a bold ambition. But our arts and culture are worth the investment.
On an international stage, Ireland’s culture is held up as vibrant, diverse, valued and valuable. But how is this reflected in real terms? Since 2009, €30 million worth of cuts have been imposed on the Arts Council, leading to the closure of dozens of excellent arts organisations and decreased resources made available to artists and the public. Irish citizens have been robbed of the chance to enjoy and participate in the cultural life of their own communities.
My ask of you and of the forthcoming government is to reverse this trend – to give the arts, artists and the public a fair deal, that reflects the recovery and investment we are seeing in other sectors.
Please take a moment to consider the huge contribution made by the arts to the life of the community and the electorate you wish to serve here in XXXX. (please add your local examples].
The arts matter to your voters.
In schools, the arts promote attendance, accelerate learning and build confidence. In hospitals and healthcare settings, the arts create opportunities for people who face long-term illness and treatment to be creative, joyful, and strong. And where people are marginalised, the arts can help them find their voice, to be empowered, heard and understood.
Over the last few difficult years, the arts have proved their resilience, popularity and value. They have borne harsh economic circumstances and have met the challenge to endure in spite of these. In 2016, as our nation reflects on the last 100 and more of its history, the arts remain a touch point to commemorate, celebrate and take pride in who we are and who we wish to be as we look forward to the future.
If you are elected, please consider the arts. Make them matter to you.