Next Friday sees the National Day of action for the Arts Campaign on which arts workers and artists in every constituency around the country will meet their local TD’s. They will point out the importance of funding and acknowledging the work done by the industry. I am aware that to some extent it is hard to justify why the Arts deserve more funding , especially when comparing to other industries like healthcare, education or construction. I am also aware that many people find the Arts industry somewhat elitist, unnecessary or exclusive.
What you have to keep in mind are the following facts:
- The Arts industry in Ireland employs hundreds of people, both at local and international level – from ushers in the theatre to world renowned actors and directors.
- Millions and millions are being brought into Ireland every year by Art companies abroad investing and funding the Irish scene.
- The Tourism industry is heavily dependent on the Arts and attracts thousands of tourist visiting Ireland for both its heritage and cultural assets. Many of them will partake – at some level – in events organized, catered or funded by the Cultural Sector.
- “The Arts” is a very abstract term. Most people think it’s the theatre, but it comprehends so much more. Visual arts, theatre, film, dance, music, literature, architecture and collaborative arts are part of this ‘collection’ of Arts and reach out to so many of us in their unique ways.
- It’s also very important to keep in mind the emotional aspect related to Art. Have we all not at some point left a venue (be it music, stage, dance or something else) and felt absolutely blown away by the performance? It might have been your child’s musical recital, or perhaps your local Drama Club’s last play, maybe a traditional music Seisiún in your favourite pub. No matter where it was, it leaves you with one emotion or another, it affects your mind and body.
Because sometimes professionals can say it better – this poster can be seen outside the Abbey Theatre and contains a quote from Neil Jordan, who – despite his major success abroad – still is so passionate about the Irish scene and a strong defender of the Arts.
I must admit that since I moved to Ireland, I have barely engaged in any Art events – definitely not to the extent I did in Belgium. My friends were very good in dragging me along to exhibitions and galleries, my mum and me has season tickets to our local theatre and I attended many obscure festivals and music concerts. Because we live in a rather remote area in Ireland, I find it takes that much more effort to effectively attend any cultural happenings. Which is a pity, because in my proximity I can find so many oustanding venues that cater so well for everything: Highlane Gallery in Drogheda, the Solstice Arts Centre in Navan and at a very local level, the Seamus Ennis Cultural Centre in the Naul.
So, because it is one thing to preach about engaging in the Arts (which I’m doing here) and actually doing it (which I’m not), I’ve made a little pact with myself (and am dragging the boyfriend along with me). I will go to more plays, visit exhibitions and make a meaningful contribution to the industry. Last week I got the beautiful brochure from the Dublin Theatre Festival in my mailbox and with so many wonderful events to pick from, it would be a crime not to attend one. So, I had picked out a rather challenging one in collaboration with the Polski Theatr, called Factory 2. Turned out it’s 7hrs long… Which will be mindboggling! I don’t think it would be fair to drag my boyfriend along to a play, in Polish, for 7hrs as his first introduction to theatre – so I’m looking for somebody that might want to accompany me!
Now, back to the NCFA. You can show your support in many ways, as outlined on their website. The best one I found is the automatic letter you can send to the TD in your constituency to highlight the day of action. With such a handy format, it’s almost easier sending it than not. So off go you. Consider it your good deed of the day!