Role of arts in society debated at Trinity (Irish Times 16/04/2010)

Irish PEN debate on 15 April & link to info on it in the Irish Times
31st March 2010
The Irish Times asks ‘are there better ways to spend arts budgets?’
24th May 2010

THE IMPORTANCE of the arts, culture and the humanities in offering practical solutions and social alternatives for the future was hotly debated at Trinity College’s Leadership Forum yesterday, which took place as part of Trinity Week.


Prof Poul Holm, academic director of Trinity Long Room Hub, who stepped in to chair the debate when former BBC news presenter Martyn Lewis was unable to attend, expressed his own belief in the need for leadership from the arts when “the old guidelines of profitability” have been called into question.

Prof Holm introduced the panel of speakers, beginning with Maurice Biriotti, chief executive of the arts and humanities consultancy SHM Ltd and Adjunct Professor Humanities Innovation at Trinity College Dublin, who outlined ways in which consultation with arts practitioners and academics can bring practical solutions to social problems. “Soft sciences can help with some of the hard things that happen in business,” he told an audience of academics, students, artists and representatives from Ireland’s cultural institutions, citing how a study of Shakespeare’s Henry V speech before the Battle of Agincourt can help formulate new questions about leadership. Gráinne Millar, head of cultural development at the Temple Bar Cultural Trust, emphasised the economic benefits following Temple Bar’s rebranding as a cultural quarter, and from its successful Culture Night.

There was some discomfort in the audience over the notion of pulling arts and culture too aggressively into marketing campaigns and branding initiatives. “You know you’re in trouble when venture capitalists start talking about culture,” said one audience member. Artist John Carney highlighted the tensions between the demands of a large-scale organisation looking to harness creativity, and the artist’s need for freedom in that area.

As someone who is “always walking the tightrope between the commercial and the creative”, panellist Ed Guiney, co-founder of Element Films, said such tension was necessary, “and must exist for good work to be produced”

Read more on The Irish Times website.

Also, see this article on IFTN on film producer Arthur Lappin, film and television producer of films such as ‘In America’, ‘My Left Foot’, ‘The Field’ and ‘Some Mother’s Son’ at the PEN debate:

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