Arts groups meet with Taoiseach over fund fears

AN Taoiseach Brian Cowen was among the TDs who met with artists, arts workers and their supporters yesterday in anational day of action, staged by the National Campaign for the Arts.

The Taoiseach met with a delegation in Tullamore, assuring them that “Ireland is a society, not just an economy. The role of the arts is critical. This will be borne in mind when the budget is being drawn up in the coming weeks”.

Among those the Taoiseach met with was 83-year-old John Beesley, who told him he’d “be dead if it weren’t for the arts programmes” at the Clara Day Care Unit he attends. As many as 90 TDs — including Minister for Culture Mary Hanafin and Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan — met with arts groups yesterday and over the weekend as the National Campaign for the Arts makes its case for continued funding for the arts sector.

A number of arts groups from Kildare, Dublin South East, Dublin North Central and Dublin North East met with TDs in the Dáil café while, outside, hundreds participated in a flash mob dance. Other day of action events in Dublin included a poetry reading at the Garden of Remembrance in Parnell Square, organised by the Irish Writers’ Centre, and a free gig at the Back Loft off Thomas Street. Across the country, arts groups organised their own readings and performances. In Cork, a number of writers participated in a flash fiction reading outside the Central Library on the Grand Parade.

In Galway, a number of TDs agreed to become “artists for a day”. Fianna Fáil TD Michael Kitt performed in a session with box accordion player, Martin O’Connor, while Fine Gael TD Padraic McCormack tried his hand at juggling.

The National Campaign for the Arts was founded in September 2009, following the publication of the McCarthy report, which proposed severe cutbacks in funding to the arts. The campaign encourages members of the public to email their TDs, calling for the preservation of funding to the arts.

* www.ncfa.ie


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