Arts to be made accessible to all

NEW Arts Council chairperson Olive Braiden said yesterday she hopes to see the arts made more accessible especially to children and local communities, despite the 20% budget cut imposed by the Government at the start of this year.

“I have a great broad interest in the arts myself, but I’m not an artist,” said Ms Braiden, first woman chairperson since the council was established in 1951.

“I really feel strongly that schools should spend more time on artistic endeavour to find the talents of pupils, because I believe everybody has artistic talent but very often it’s not found. I’m also very interested in community arts.”

New council members include Noelle Campbell Sharpe, director of Cill Rialaig artist retreat in Co Kerry and owner of Dublin’s Origin Gallery, writer John McGahern, actress Rosaleen Linehan and poet and broadcaster Theo Dorgan.

The other members are Derry-born artist Willie Doherty, Wexford Festival Opera chief executive Jerome Hynes, filmmaker and musician Philip King, director of the National Association of Youth Drama Orlaith McBride, artistic director of Cashel’s Brú Ború Una Ó Murchú’ choreographer, dancer and lecturer Mary Nunan, theatre critic Emer O’Kelly and Gaiety School of Acting director, Patrick Sutton.

Arts Minister John O’Donoghue said: “In appointing the new council I wanted to achieve a microcosm of the arts sector, with a mixture of continuity from the previous council, important artists of our generation and experienced participants who have worked in the arts community.”

Yesterday, Mr O’Donoghue brought the Arts Act 2003 into effect. Under that law, six men and six women must be appointed to the council. The new 13-member council includes seven women.

“The Arts Act will ensure that the creativity and energy of Irish artists will be encouraged and supported during the forthcoming decades of the third millennium,” he said.

Under the act, the Minister for Arts has power to promote the arts, both domestically and internationally. Mr O’Donoghue said he intends immediately to set up a standing committee to help draw up policy on traditional arts such as Irish music, song, dance and poetry. He expected it would begin its work in the autumn.

Local authorities are obliged under the law to formulate an arts plan, and the minister said he would be interested in establishing a standing committee to assist this.

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