Progress on arts funding too slow

19 October 2017

Labour Party Leader Brendan Howlin has criticised the Government for the slow progress made in providing adequate funding to the arts sector following the promise of the Taoiseach to double funding.

Deputy Howlin said:

“After his election earlier this year, the Taoiseach made a commitment to double funding for the arts and culture over the coming years. It was an imitation of a pledge made by his good friend, Justin Trudeau. It created great hope and expectation across the arts community. Unlike his Canadian friend, the Taoiseach did not follow through on what he had said with a serious commitment in the budget.

“Instead we saw an extremely disappointing budget for the arts sector. The 5% increase for the sector is a miserly attempt to lift up the sector despite soothing words from the Taoiseach that funding would be substantially increased.

“In our Alternative Budget, Labour supported a doubling of funding for the arts and culture over the next five years.

“As a first step towards the restoration of badly needed funding for the arts, the Government could have proposed a 20% increase in funding to the Arts Council, the Film Board, Culture Ireland, each of our National Cultural Institutions, and to all regional museums, galleries and cultural centres.

“Irish artists continued to produce world-class content throughout the darkest days of the crisis. They are cultural ambassadors for our country, and the work they produce has immense social, economic and reputational benefit for Ireland. This Budget does nothing to reward their work, despite us being out of the dark days.

“There is no getting around the fact that the commitment to double funding over a set period raised expectations among the arts community which were dashed when no additional real money was allocated to the Arts Council.

“The Government needs to commit to holding a proper debate on the 2020 vision of the arts with proper input from the arts community.”

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