A cautionary tale about arts funding

A NEW five-minute film produced by the Kilkenny-based Young Irish Film Makers paints a bleak picture of what Ireland’s future would be like without funding for the arts.

A NEW five-minute film produced by the Kilkenny-based Young Irish Film Makers paints a bleak picture of what Ireland’s future would be like without funding for the arts.

Created for the Carlow Kilkenny National Campaign for the Arts, the animated film is told from the point of view of a grandfather sharing stories with his two grandchildren.

Titled Fadó Fadó in Éirin (Long Long Ago in Ireland), it’s written by Ken Bourke, narrated by Alan Counihan and illustrated by Alé Mercado with artwork by Claire O’Regan.

There wasn’t a crossroads in Ireland that didn’t have festivals and music and readings and exhibitions, the old man says of a time “when there was the best of funding for the arts ... and people came from near and far to see the wonderful things that were to be seen in Ireland and to hear the wonderful things that were to be heard.”

“It was all very well,” the old man continued, “but it was all about to change.”

“The cuts came like a thief in the night. From Malin Head to Mizen, from Dublin Bay to Clew, and from Ballon to Callan, the arts were beaten down,” he says. “First they cut, then they carved, then they hung them out to dry.”

Soon, he forebodes, “the tourists stopped coming, for there was nothing for them to do when they were sheltering from the rain. And the hotels and the restaurants and the little cafes, they all began to shut up shop. And the people started to ask themselves: What is so great about being Irish?”

“The spirit went out of the country, and the jobs, and the little bit of money that was left after the big dip,” he says bleakly. “The galleries began to leak and the libraries began to moulder, and the lights in the theatres went out all over Ireland. And that is what brought us to where we are now, children: a sad, idle, feckless people with a glorious past and slim hope of a future.”

Asked whether this was all caused by cuts in arts funding, he replies: “No. There was something else.”

That something, he says, is “the weather – but sure, we never had any control over that.”

See the film here