Have your say on the future of the arts

“The Arts Are a Luxury We Can’t Afford Right Now!” is the provocative title selected by members of the Carlow/Kilkenny National Campaign for the Arts to stimulate discussion around the position and role of the arts in the current climate.

The calibre of the speakers who have been invited to give short, pithy responses to the theme highlights the group’s commitment in planning an event which will have relevance and value.

Gerry Smyth, Managing Editor of the Irish Times with responsibility for arts coverage, is well placed to reflect the essential value of the arts; Grainne Millar, Head of Cultural Development with Temple Bar Cultural Trust, with expertise in the creative and cultural industries will also reflect the significance of the ‘creative clusters’ concept; Economist and former professor at Dublin City University Finbar Bradley who has headed up graduate programmes to foster entrepreneurialism among students and co-authored Capitalising on Culture: Competing on Difference will provide his perspective on the economic impact of arts and cultural in local communities. Pat Cooke, Director of MA Cultural Policy and Arts Management course UCD in addition to his role as instigator and assessor of Museum Standards for Irish Museums, will chair the event.

Robust discussion

The aim of the event is to generate a robust and lively discussion around the cultural, social, environmental and economic impact of the arts among a range of stakeholders.

To enable this to happen and to ensure the event does not just consist of the ‘arts community’ a range of local stakeholders are being invited to provide short (two minute) inputs from the floor; this approach is reflective of a growing awareness of both the reach and impact of the arts and from that the realisation for the necessity to actively engage the many disparate groups, bodies and individuals who all have a stake in arts and cultural activity.

Representatives from Heritage Council, Kilkenny Leader Partnership, Crafts Council of Ireland, Kilkenny Tourism, Failte Ireland, VISUAL and GB Shaw Theatre in Carlow, elected officials, Director of Services from Local Authorities, along with a host of others who have a particular interest in keeping arts/culture on the local and national agenda.

On agenda

The National Campaign for the Arts (NCFA) was set up in 2010 and ensures that the arts are on local and national government agendas and are recognised as a vital part of contemporary life. The NCFA is an awareness-raising campaign that identifies events and initiatives to raise the profile of the arts and ensure they remain high on the political agenda at national level.

It is a collective effort by arts practitioners and those working in associated arts sector to highlight the impact of the work and to proactively engage a range of stakeholders.

The recent Meet & Greet event where 75% of all new and returning TDs were met by representatives of arts organisations right across the country is an example of such initiatives – the third national mobilisation of the arts community by the NCFA. Newly elected TDs Ann Phelan and John Paul Phelan, Senator Pat O’Neill, deputising for Minister Phil Hogan, Parliamentary Assistant Michael Meaney deputising for Deputy Pat Deering and returning TD John McGuiness were met by groups who make the arts happen at the Butler Gallery May 16.

The purpose of the event was to initiate a relationship with elected officials where the arts community could learn about the kind of information and data needed to allow the TDs make the case for the arts.

Subsequent meetings have been initiated by Carlow/Kilkenny NCFA with Minister Phil Hogan, in addition to a meeting earlier this month with Minister Jimmy Deenehan (Arts Heritage and Gaeltacht) - with Deputy John Paul Phelan in attendance - to relay the range of cultural activity and highlight how arts groups are taking action to collaborate and engage a greater range of stakeholders.

Strong Support

This was met with strong support by Minister Deenehan, commenting on ‘the need for community involvement in the arts, expanding the range of stakeholders and identifying Kilkenny as an example of how culture and the arts can be packaged’.

Kilkenny Arts Festival in association with the Carlow and Kilkenny National Campaign for the Arts presents: The Arts Are a Luxury We Can’t Afford Right Now! takes place on Saturday (August 6) at 11.30am in the Pembroke Hotel on Patrick Street. It is a free event and anyone with an interest in arts is welcome to attend and have their say.