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