Artistic hotbed draws major funding

IRELAND’S artistic hotbed of south Kerry figures prominently in the list of areas to benefit from substantial new arts funding.

The funding is being made available by minister for arts, John O’Donoghue, a native of south Kerry.

Under a new arts funding spree revealed yesterday, 29 arts organisations across Ireland will net €16.4 million.

Apart from arts bodies with a national dimension, like the Irish Film Board and Arts Council, 10 Dublin-based bodies will benefit, with eight Kerry-based arts bodies netting funds — most of them based in the minister’s constituency.

Only two arts bodies based in Cork, one in Waterford, one in Galway (other than the Irish Film Board) and one in Sligo are to benefit.

This latest announcement again highlights a pattern of benefits going Kerry’s way that the minister can take credit for — from his lobbying of ex-sports minister Jim McDaid for €300,000 for Killorglin Rowing Club, in breach of departmental guidelines, to his gift of €870,000 to the Waterville Tech Amergin educational centre, and €230,000 to Kenmare’s Carnegie Arts Centre, both in 2004.

Incidentally, the Waterville and Kenmare arts centres again win under this latest giveaway, with €30,000 going to Tech Amergin this time and €150,000 going to the Carnegie Arts Centre.

Other great cultural institutions in Kerry to benefit from these latest funds include the Tralee-based Kerry School of Music, the Cill Rialaig artists’ retreat in Ballinskelligs, the Samhlaíocht arts festival in Tralee, St John’s theatre and arts centre in Listowel, and a project to build a monument in Killarney — a monument to traditional musician Johnny O’Leary.

The monies are mainly for capital spending on refurbishment, repairs and upkeep, said a spokesman for the minister. The funds come from savings made by the Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism due to “prudent management.”

Other bodies that are set to benefit are the Abbey Theatre, in Dublin, The Gate Theatre, also in Dublin, €300,000 to the historic Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin’s Temple Bar, for a restoration project, and €450,000 to the Cork Opera House, to overhaul its Half Moon Theatre.

Galway’s Druid Theatre is getting €150,000 towards refurbishment of its theatre, which it has hardly used of late, and €200,000 is going to Siamsa Tire in Kerry.

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