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We all know that the budget we are facing this year will be the toughest yet. That's why we have to come out with one of our strongest messages ever.
It’s simple. But it’s true.
The arts make Ireland vibrant. That’s why they are vital.
At every level of society, from the zest of festivals that animate every corner of Ireland to the heft of our global winners in music, theatre and literature, the arts have remained a pillar of Irish society and a beacon of light through the darkest days of the crisis. There are more dark days to be endured, but this is a resourceful, vibrant place and we're coming through. Ask yourself what are the assets we possess as a society that will help us find our way. The arts are surely among them. Investment in the arts is about nurturing our creative spirit, encouraging our fervor for life, and most importantly about sustaining our capacity to imagine and the self- belief we need to pull us through. Support the vitality of the arts because there is life in Ireland yet.
Your call to action:
The #VibrantArts Campaign starts with YOU
This week artists, arts workers, arts organisations, institutions, collectives and attenders all over the country gear up for one of the most significant demonstrations of arts and cultural activity of the year — Culture Night on Friday 21 September. A record 34 towns, cities, counties and islands will demonstrate the vitality of the arts in one vibrant celebratory evening. We want you to give voice to this vibrancy by flooding the every possible channel - Twitter, facebook, websites etc - with facts and figures and testaments that evidence the vibrancy of the arts starting on Culture Night and running up until the Budget 2013.
Tell your vibrant story of Culture Night and beyond…
Let them be seen and heard:
But make sure you tag your contribution as #VibrantArts and #NCFA
We want to build an aggregate representation of the vibrancy of arts in Ireland at this moment in time, one generated from every corner of Ireland, from your own experience and evidence. This starts today: Culture Night 2012. But we want this campaign to grow and carry us forward to Budget 2013, leaving no-one in any doubt about the vibrancy of the arts nationwide, the value of the arts in our communities, and as a vital element in our recovery.
Don't forget to use our adverts, posters, logos etc. in your venue for Culture Night.
Warmest wishes, Louise O'Reilly, National Co-ordinator. Sent on behalf of the steering committee: Tania Banotti, Valerie Connor, Loughlin Deegan, Vincent Dempsey, Gerard Howlin, Fiach Mac Conghail, Niamh O'Donnell.
After our last newsletter, and as a direct result of our persistence, your support and very visible lobbying in Leinster House, there has been some significant National Campaign for the Arts (NCFA) outcomes.
Private Members Motions in The Dáil and The Seanad
June 26th & 27th 2012
It was significant that the arts and culture in Ireland was the subject of debate in both the Houses of the Oireachtas in the same week. As the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht remarked; "It is unique in my 30 years in national politics for both Houses to debate an issue simultaneously. It is even rarer for the same issue to come up in Private Members' business, so it is a first".
Leinster House briefing
The NCFA hosted a briefing session for all members of The Houses on Tues June 26th in Leinster House. TDs and Senators were briefed on the Campaign's wider objectives as well as the core principles at stake for Public Service Reform (PSR) plans for State's cultural institutions. Our briefing informed the debate, evidenced by the fact that TDs used our facts, figures and positions to support their statements in the Dáil Chamber. Fianna Fáil supported by Sinn Féin, some Independents and members of the Technical Group, brought a Private Members Motion to the Dáil on the subject of the National Cultural Institutions (NCIs). Full remarks from the Dáil debates on June 26th here & June 27th here. At the same time, a number of independent Senators tabled a similar motion in The Seanad, with that debate taking place on June 27th. Full remarks here
NCFA membership in action
Through targeted e-mail and social media campaign, NCFA members filled the Public Galleries for all debates, demonstrating that the arts sector was alert to the Department's handling of concerns around the PSR plans. Thanks to members and supporters who filled the Galleries, noted by Minister Deenihan, other TDs and Senators. We would like to thank Sarah Kelly in Senator Fiach Mac Conghail's Office for enabling access to Leinster House for the debates. There was a strong showing from the Visual Arts sector too and the NCFA welcomes and thanks all members, new and old.
NCFA meets with Minister Deenihan
28th June 2012
A meeting with the Minister was sought in February 2012, so it was ironic but timely that we finally spoke with him in person on the day after debates in both the Houses of the Oireachtas. At this meeting, we put forward our key concerns in relation to the PSR plans, specifically around the retention and independence of boards, succession planning and the public recruitment of Directors of the National Cultural Institutions. Strengthening Culture Ireland beyond the Critical Review, calling for the advisory board to be formalized and the permanent CEO position to be publicly advertised forthwith were also discussed. The minutes of this meeting cannot yet be published as the Department has not agreed to their publication.
Meeting with Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams
July 11th 2012
A positive and engaged discussion around the PSR plans, the Decade of Commemorations, and local participation in the arts. As with all parties in the Oireachtas, the NCFA aims to develop good working relationships with local and national politicians.
Briefing session with Parliamentary Labour Party
July 17th 2012
Constituency Coordinators have been really supportive recently by directly lobbying local TDs to attend briefings, and particular, to help secure the Labour Party briefing after the Private Members Motion. Many thanks for your loyal support, time and effort. It paid off. This was a key opportunity for the Campaign to speak directly to Government partners and holders of such key Ministerial portfolios as Department of Foreign Affairs & Enterprise, Education & Skills and Public Expenditure & Reform, all having some direct influence and connection with the arts. The session provided strong feedback, not only on Party commitment to the arts in Ireland, but also welcoming specifics on Campaign priorities in the future.
July 18th 2012
As Minister Deenihan appeared in the Dáil for Priority Questions there was clarification that the Minister has submitted proposals and recommendations to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, but that it was unlikely these would be progressed further before Autumn. A full transcript of all PQs for the Minister can be found here.
While awaiting the PSR plan, a number of observations can be made on recent activity. This experience will be useful for our future traction with local and national government. Almost 50 Backbenchers, TDs, Ministers and Senators took the time to consider the motions and contribute to the debate. They were from the length and breadth of the country and were very keen to show cross-party support for the arts in general, while reinforcing their commitment to their local arts organizations and activity. We will shortly publish a handy list of the politicians who debated on the motion in June so you can directly reference your own constituency representatives. Arts & Culture was firmly acknowledged as a core component of our Irish identity, something that enriches all our lives and part of the fabric of a civic society.
As always you can follow us on Twitter (we have doubled our followers in the last 3 months by an extra 2000 to 4000!) or like us on Facebook to get the most up-to-date notes from the campaign. Make sure to link these please!
Warmest wishes, Louise O'Reilly National Co-ordinator. Sent on behalf of the steering committee: Tania Banotti, Valerie Connor, Loughlin Deegan, Vincent Dempsey, Jack Harte, Gerard Howlin, Fiach Mac Conghail, Janice McAdam, Niamh O'Donnell, Elizabeth Whyte
The Arts are a political priority
After many months, your representations to public representatives and the NCFA campaigning effort have yielded real results. Next week, the arts are at the top of the political agenda. After a number of meetings between the NCFA, Politicians and Department Officials, the arts and culture will be the subject of debates in both the Houses of the Oireachtas.
Your support is critical
Next week is an important one for the arts. Arts and cultural issues will be debated in both the Dáil and the Seanad. NCFA Steering Committee members are also meeting with Minister Deenihan in advance of the presentation of his Department's Public Service Reform proposals on Friday next. We need your continued support to ensure these valuable opportunities to influence the arts debate and policy are used to our best advantage.
Calls to action
We need you to act:
You can arrange admittance to Leinster House by contacting Sarah Kelly in Senator Fiach Mac Conghail's office. Mail your name, indicating the debates you'd like to attend, to email@example.com. Encourage colleagues, friends and family to do the same.
We appreciate all your support and hope to see you at Leinster House. Many thanks again and we'll keep you posted of developments next week.
Sent on behalf of the steering committee:Tania Banotti, Valerie Connor, Loughlin Deegan, Vincent Dempsey, Jack Harte, Gerard Howlin, Fiach Mac Conghail, Janice McAdam, Niamh O'Donnell, Elizabeth Whyte
Public Sector Reform
As you are aware, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform drew up plans for comprehensive public service reform last November 2011. A list of 13 national cultural and heritage institutions and agencies such as Culture Ireland have come under 'Critical Review' or will be amalgamated or merged into the Department of Arts, Heritage and The Gaeltacht in the stated interest of financial cuts and positive budgetary impact.
Meeting the Minister
NCFA has consistently sought a direct meeting with Minister Deenihan to discuss the plans in person, and to seek transparency and offer consultation from the sector. On April 27th, the Department agreed to meet with the NCFA in the form of two of the civil servants responsible for drafting recommendations on the proposals for the Minister. It was at this meeting that the NCFA learnt of the impending short timeline before the Cabinet meets in late June to sign off on the Public Service Reform plans, and potentially change the course of our National Cultural Institutions forever.
NCFA wants to reinforce with the Government that the arts sector recognises and is willing to work to optimise resources in these straitened times, but not to the detriment of the independence and creative autonomy that has heralded such great success from our arts and culture in the years of successive governments adherence to the arm's length principle.
The last month has seen an escalation in public debate around the importance of sustaining our cultural heritage, not least due to the provocations and behind-the-scenes activity of the National Campaign for the Arts on the current issues of Public Sector Reform Plans. The fact that this is now part of the national conversation is a positive step forward in raising the calibre level of the debate and reinforcing the value of the arts at a more intrinsic level than purely the economic argument.
The Dáil & Seanad
We live in a society, not an economy.
6th June 2012
Priority Questions - a number of the issues will be the subject of priority questions for the Minister from opposition spokespersons tomorrow afternoon*.
7th June 2012
Seanad Éireann, Statements on 'A Decade of Commemorations' (Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht) Thursday 11.45AM*
Minister Deenihan will appear in the Seanad to discuss the plans for the Decade of Commemorations for the Centenary. He can expect questions on how the current undermining of our core cultural infrastructure is likely to impact on our international reputation leading up to the commemorations.
24th May 2012
Senator Fiach MacConghail contributes to the debate in the Seanad - remarks here.
May / June 2012
Intensive lobbying continues between NCFA and Dáil representatives to ensure the issues are raised wherever possible in this month before the summer recess, and crucially before Cabinet meets to vote on Public Sector Reform.
Keep an eye on our Twitter for updates or watch live on the Oireachtas website.
A summary of accumulated media, including items from NCFA supporters, listed below from dated most recent:
June 1 – The Irish Times
Letter: Garry Hynes, Druid AD Bureaucrat Barbarians at the gates?
May 31 – The Irish Times
Op-Ed: Has our past no future?
Letter: SIPTU President Bureaucrat Barbarians at the gates?
May 30 – The Irish Times
Letter: A case of ‘cultural vandalism’?
May 30 – The Journal.ie
Culture was Farmleigh’s answer, Dublin Castle was about quick economic wins
May 29 – The Irish Times
Op-Ed: We must resist merging our cultural institutions
May 28 – Frontline, RTÉ One
Discussion: Can the public purse continue to financially support the arts?
May 29 – RTÉ Radio One
Today with Pat Kenny, Cultural Institutions
May 27 – RTÉ Radio One
Marian Finucane, Newspaper Panel
May 25 – The Irish Times
Report: Merging of cultural institutions criticised
May 24 – The Irish Times
Report: Ferriter resigns in protest from board of National Library
May 14 – The Irish Times
Letter: NCFA Future of Culture Ireland
Check our Twitter stream for live commentary on the TV and Radio pieces above.
CALL TO ACTION - WHAT CAN YOU DO?
I. We are calling on NCFA members in the following constituencies: Carlow-KK (Hogan), Cork South Central (Coveney), Dublin Mid-West(Fitzgerald), Dublin North (Reilly), Dublin North Central (Bruton), Dublin South (Shatter), Dublin South East (Quinn), Dublin South West (Rabitte), Dublin West (Burton, Varadkar), Dun Laoghaire (Eamon Gilmore), Kerry West- North Limerick (Deenihan), Limerick City (Noonan), Mayo (Kenny), Wexford (Howlin) to
II. Make sure everyone you know who works in or enjoys the arts as an audience member shows their support by joining the NCFA.
III. Help us build our funds for the imminent pre-budget campaign DONATE here and if you have already, make sure others around you do, whether individual, organization or public.
IV. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the most up-to-date notifications on the Campaign.
Finally, a fresh NCFA website is coming soon this summer with easy navigation, ample resources, links, tools, and comprehensive campaign archive to help us build the case for the Arts in Ireland. We can't wait to share it with you and strengthen our resolve for the second half of the year.
I recently attended the Visual Artists Workers Forum in Cork, and will be present at Theatre Forum conference in Belfast next week. Later this summer I will be in Kilkenny, Galway and Limerick, back in Cork and would be delighted to receive invitations to meet with constituency supporters anywhere in Ireland, where possible, in the future.
Until my next update, Louise O'Reilly
Louise O'Reilly here, newly appointed National Co-ordinator for the National Campaign for the Arts. I have hit the ground running on the Campaign with support from Janice McAdam, and following on from our statement on the departure of Eugene Downes from Culture Ireland, and our meetings with the DAHG, I will have an update on developments and action plans around the Public Sector Reforms later this week.
In the meanwhile, here are some imminent deadlines for you to be aware of:
Deadline May 10th
EU Culture Ministers Meeting re Culture Programme 'Creative Europe' 2014 - 2020
The EU Programme for Culture 'Creative Europe" is about to be discussed in Brussels on Thursday - There are a number of points of interest, not least protecting increased funding for the arts at a European level, and your voice is valued in this campaign. Our colleagues at IETM have summarised their response to the proposals, and we think the following document will be useful for you to review in order to formulate your own response and action accordingly.
Deadline May 11th
Submissions re Tax Relief for Donations to Approved Bodies under Section 848a of Tax Consolidation Act 1997.
Following from representations made by the charities sector and the recommendations of the Forum on Philanthropy and Finance, the Minister for Finance invites interested parties to make submissions regarding proposed amendments to the charitable donations scheme. These amendments are set out here
The deadline for submissions is this Friday May 11. Colleagues at Business to Arts who recently held a briefing session with Sheila Norden, CEO of ICTR, have very kindly shared with us some key considerations for any submissions you plan to make to the Revenue Commissioners on the proposed changes to Section 848a of the Tax Consolidation Act.
Whether you are for, against or neutral toward the proposed changes, we encourage you to make a submission on behalf of your organisation. To lend weight to your submission, we advise you to provide as much evidence as possible. You should consider assessing the following in your organisation
With thanks to Andrew Hetherington | Project Director Business to Arts
Until my next update, Louise O'Reilly, National Co-ordinator