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As 2012 draws to a close we pause to take a quick look back over what was achieved and to consider our priorities for next year.
Successes and failures
Our most notable success this year came in the summer when, for the first time in their history, both houses of the Oireachtas had concurrent debates about the role of the arts. These debates raised the profile of the arts and, most usefully, TDs’ and Senators’ expressed support for the arts is now a matter of public record.
These debates came about in response to the government’s reform plans for our National Cultural Institutions and for Culture Ireland. We worked long and hard to retain the independence and integrity of these organisations. It was a severe blow when the Minister proceeded with amalgamations and rationalisations that we believe set back and diminish our cultural infrastructure. However, we must be proud of our efforts and acknowledge all those who participated in our campaign by attending the debates and engaging with their TDs.
On the research side, with the support of Senator Fiach Mac Conghail, we undertook a piece of work to understand how we could improve and substantiate our case for the arts. We will launch a strategy document and series of position papers in January 2013 on Making the Case for the Arts in Ireland.
Keeping it all going
Louise O'Reilly took over from Janice McAdam as National Co-ordinator in April and did a great job steering us through a challenging year. Thanks to Louise we have a revamped website which is a better tool for us in campaign mode and a better resource for you.
Unfortunately, due to decreasing resources, we cannot continue the post of National Co-ordinator. We will be ever more reliant on those who volunteer their time and talent to the campaign. On that note, we welcome Mark Brennock (Public Affairs Consultant) and Mags Walsh (Children's Books Ireland) to the National Steering Committee and thank outgoing members Elizabeth Whyte and Jack Walsh.
Thanks too to all on our respective subcommittees, to our Constituency Co-ordinators and to all our members. Your continued enthusiasm, belief and actions, in collectively emailing your TDs or rallying your colleagues to meet a Minister (as Hugh did in Limerick, Elizabeth did in Wexford and Vincent did in Kilkenny), spurs us on. The NCFA is about all of us working together with common cause: the arts. We hope you can keep up the good work next year.
The year ahead
One thing's for sure in 2013: we're not going away. The NCFA will continue to promote the value of the arts and to lobby for sustained investment in the arts. Protection of Local Authority funding for the arts will be high on our agenda.
However, we are going to have to sit down and re-evaluate how we continue on reduced resources. We're going to have to be smart. We're going to have to prioritise what we do. And we 're going to have to fundraise. Any help or advice you can give us in that regard would be most welcome. And we'd like to hear from you as to what you think is most important for us to do in the year ahead.
For now, it's nearly Christmas. We wish you a peaceful one and a happy and healthy New Year.
The Steering Committee:
Tania Banotti, Mark Brennock, Valerie Connor, Loughlin Deegan, Vincent Dempsey, Gerard Howlin, Fiach Mac Conghail, Niamh O'Donnell, Mags Walsh.