This afternoon, both an Arts Council and a Theatre Forum delegation made presentations to the Joint Committee on Arts, Sport, Tourism, Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.
The Arts Council brought along Brendan Gleeson and Colum McCann who crucially they were able to demonstrate were supported in the early stage of their career by arts council funding. Theatre Forum brought Sebastian Barry and according to reports Fiach MacConghaile, Gabriel Byrne and Garry Hynes were all their too.
Like all lobbying, momentum is key and with the recent coverage of National Campaign for the Arts and with two strong presentations there is hope that some of those who will be making budget decisions in the next few months might be listening.
Here’s a little bit of what was said – Pat Moylan (chair of Arts Council)
The Arts Council supports 3,000 jobs (both directly and indirectly) with the €73 million allocation it receives from the taxpayer. In turn, those organisations pay €65 million in direct and indirect taxes each year. “Artists, actors, musicians and all those in the broad arts family – work with a sense of vocation. Certainly they gain much personal satisfaction when their work goes well. But to follow this way of life they are prepared to submit to low earnings, periods of no earnings, to continuous assessment of their work and talent – much of it public, to insecurity of employment or the loneliness of working in front of a computer or canvas. There are no pension schemes, no lavish expenses, no sinecures. In other words there is no fat! Funding cuts go straight to the bone.
Edited to add Media Coverage of the Event (thanks to Theatre Forum)
Six One News (14 October)
Morning Ireland 1 (15 October): Conor Hunt report
Morning Ireland 2 (15 October): Colum McCann (speaker at the Committee) has been shortlisted for US National Book Awards
Irish Independent (15 October): Artists hope pen is mightier than economic slash-hook, Lise Hand
Irish Times (15 October): Artists lobby politicians to maintain funding, Deirdre Falvey
Irish Examiner (15 October): Gleeson: Film plans will collapse if Bord Snip implemented, Conor Ryan