Standing Up for Arts & Culture is what Labour is about – Ó Ríordáin

17 February 2016

I’m delighted to here to launch our plan for arts and culture in Ireland.

These proposals have come about after a process of genuine consultation within the Labour Party, and more importantly, between the Labour Party and the arts and creative communities.

We held a series of arts policy network events, not just here in Dublin, but also in Cork and Galway, because as far as the Labour Party is concerned the arts and culture is not something that we can pay lip service to. It’s much too important for that.

In the course of our consultation, we heard it argued that the arts and culture have a crucial role to play in the economic health and recovery of this country.

We heard that a vital and vibrant sector attracts visitors, gets people off their couches and into venues, brings life and business to towns and cities, provides employment in the arts and in other ancillary sectors, makes population centres attractive to employers and so on.

All of that is true, and all of that is important –very important, but there has to be more to an arts policy than making a business case.

Because we also heard that providing space and providing supports for the creative arts to flourish should never just be about a balance sheet or a cost benefit analysis.

I fully agree with that.

As a nation, we have told our story; we have made sense of our history; and we have made our voice heard in the global community in a wide variety of ways.

But we have done so primarily through artistic expression.

And as we move towards becoming a more diverse society, and as we mature as a people and as a country, I have no doubt that this very diversity will not only inform and influence artists – painters, directors, composers, writers, actors, choreographers – it will in fact enrich the entire cultural landscape in which we all live and work.

Actually, we all know that it’s already happening.

Today as we set out our vision for the creative arts, we do so beneath the Labour Party’s emblem – the red rose. It reminds me of the words of playwright Sean O’Casey who described Jim Larkin as a man who would not only put a loaf on a plate but would also put a flower in a vase on the kitchen table.

I believe that our plan will go a long way to providing supports and the infrastructure in which flowers – including red roses – can truly flourish!


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