Size: 2 MB
Various Formats for print and screen
The National Campaign for the Arts (NCFA) began in September 2009. A core Steering Committee of six people initiated the first campaign supported by a network of coordinators based in electoral constituencies nationwide.
In July 2009, lists of recommendations meant to radically reduce public expenditure were published in a Government commissioned report, known colloquially as the McCarthy Report. Overall, the McCarthy Report focussed on reducing the number of quangos and staff employed in the public sector in Ireland.
The McCarthy Report identified six areas in the arts sector for attention. These included the discontinuation of the ‘cultural projects’ programme, the Irish Film Board and Culture Ireland and merging of the State’s visual arts National Cultural Institutions – the Irish Museum of Modern Art, National Gallery of Ireland and the Crawford Gallery. The report also concluded that a specific Ministerial portfolio for the arts would become unnecessary, suggesting the reduced functions go to the Department of the Taoiseach. The NCFA argued directly and publicly against such actions, predicting the long-term cultural consequences and making the economic argument for the arts by championing the proven achievements and reputation of an independent arts sector and agencies that operate at ‘arms length’ from government. Since a change in government in 2011, the threatened mergers and discontinuations have not been implemented. The arts have remain under a Cabinet Minister. However, sister cultural organisations within the Council for National Cultural Institutions such as the National Library of Ireland and the National Museum of Ireland have fared worse with significant interventions made in their governance structures. The Arts Council budget from government has been radically reduced. Similarly, Culture Ireland suffered reductions in its budget, while the Department has increased its direct funding to its own projects.
In March 2011, the commissioners of the McCarthy Report, Fianna Fail, were replaced in government by a Fine Gael and Labour coalition. The new government’s first Budget resurrected recommendations from the McCarthy Report, in particular changes likely to affect the independent governance of the National Cultural Institutions and Culture Ireland.
In June 2012, the NCFA succeeded in bringing the case for the arts into the Dail and Seanad via a private members debate. Over two days, opposition parties, independents and government Ministers debated the issues and supporters mobilised to fill the public galleries of the Oireachtas. In July, recommendations were made by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht and submitted to Cabinet colleagues in the Departments of Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform. These remain undisclosed despite repeated requests by the NCFA and Opposition TDs and Senators for greater transparency.
At the start of 2012 the NCFA Steering Committee was renewed and a Research Committee was established to focus on advocacy for new types of arts research for policy and decision makers.
Pre-Budget campaigns kicked off in September 2012 and 2013. Through advocacy and lobbying we continue to connect with organisations, groups and individuals with a history of shared interests. The close relationship between the arts and the State is not limited to the remit of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The impact on the arts of the policies of the Department of Education and Skills, the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, and the Department for Public Sector Reform and Expenditure are also the focus of our campaign activities. In 2014, in the run up to the local elections and european parliament elections, we campaigned for a minumum spend on the arts locally by local authorities to preserve and celebrate the achievements of local arts nationally.
The NCFA is a non-partisan grouping. We support the complementary goals of other advocacy groups and membership organisations in the arts. We support transparency in lobbying.