Speaking this evening in the Dáil during private members’ business, Fine Gael TD for Dublin South, Olivia Mitchell, urged the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs, Jimmy Deenihan TD, to preserve in the curatorial and programming independence of the cultural institutions.
“The artistic community is not resistant to change. They are the drivers of change in society and the challengers of the status quo. So when they express real reservations, I believe we should listen to them.
“It is the very independence of these institutions which has generated their success, so it is essential that the Minister does not compromise that independence in any reform of their structures, boards or terms of reference.
“It is at our peril that we tamper with the structures that have allowed the arts to thrive. I was wary of the measures relating to the merging of the cultural institutions when they were first announced by Fianna Fáil in the 2009 Budget and I am still wary of them today.
“In Ireland’s darkest economic hour, the arts were our only shining beacon and during that time, not only did the arts continue to send out positive signals from Ireland to the rest of the world, but reinforced our sense of national self-worth.
“The small but significant investment in the arts has leveraged enormous creative activity, way in excess of the taxpayer investment and has resulted in invaluable spill-over effects for arts tourism and foreign direct investment.
“I understand that no decision has yet been made and that the Government has said it will maintain the programming and curatorial independence in any reform plans. This is the real fear in the arts community, so I would urge the Minister to proceed with caution.”