The NCFA are extremely disappointed by the Department of Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht’s response to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the Irish arts community. In a time when the Irish Government has acted swiftly and decisively to allay fears and secure the welfare of Irish citizens in this unprecedented crisis, we are dismayed by the lack of vision shown in relation to the arts.
The Arts Council fund of €1 million for artists to create online work represents a small investment in individual artists, but does not apply to many kinds of artistic practice. Aside from this fund, the other initiatives like ‘Shining a Light’ have little to do with professional arts practice and do not address the real damage that has been done to the sector through the ongoing crisis. Yet again, Ireland’s place at the bottom of the pile in terms of investment in culture and arts in Europe is demonstrated. Other countries have rolled out significant supports for artists in these challenging times (e.g. Germany €50 Billion, Arts Council England £160 Million, Arts Council Wales £7 Million).
The recent crisis has shown the Irish public’s support for and commitment to arts and culture in all its forms. Arts and culture are a cornerstone of our society, creativity is vital to our health and wellbeing. Culture and creativity are helping people through this crisis; people are looking to the arts for inspiration and consolation. Expectations of financial commitments will need to be revised across all sectors in light of the significant and necessary emergency spend in response to the COVID-19 crisis, but it is imperative that investment in arts and culture, artists, makers and arts workers in Ireland is safeguarded; that the sector is recognised as vital to the fabric of our society, the on-going health, wellbeing and morale of our citizens; that the creativity, innovation and multifaceted skills of artists, makers and arts workers will be a key component in the rebuilding of our country and economy.
In that knowledge, it is extremely disappointing that today’s announcement shows such little respect for artists and arts workers and those who support them. This announcement goes nowhere near addressing the fears and concerns of the arts community in Ireland. Our sector needs to be ready to come back fighting after this crisis is over; the lack of vision shown by the Minster and her Department will do nothing to create those conditions.
Minister Madigan said: “I am confident that arts, culture and creativity will play an important role in bringing healing to the nation as we emerge from this unprecedented challenge.”
The NCFA responds: “There will be no arts and culture sector left without a significant vision for how the sector will be supported through these difficult times.”
The Government has demonstrated significant vision and flexibility in its thinking over recent weeks in relation to other sectors of society and the economy. We call on government to make more funding available to the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to allow them to add significantly more funding to the Arts Council measure and open up the restrictiveness of the scheme and make some changes to these initiatives to really reflect how the Irish public value artists and arts organisations and to better support artists directly at this time.
NCFA Ireland Committee