Light House relief, Science Gallery joy and a royal recommendation
This is not so much a single post as a gallop through a few noteworthy arts news items. First off, good news yesterday from the High Court, where the Light House Cinema in Dublin’s Smithfield got some more time to sort out a rent dispute with its landlord.
Ms Justice Mary Laffoy granted an adjournment until April 15th to give the board of the Light House time to come up with a solution to its current predicament, after the landlord had brought a petition to force the cinema into examinership.
There’s also an intriguing element to last week’s statement by the Minister for the Arts Jimmy Deenihan that may have slipped somewhat beneath the radar. When asked what the Government’s attitude would be should the cinema close, he said the State had two options to get value from the €1.75 million it had put into the property: it could demand the money back – anybody with an ounce of sense would imagine this to be a fairly futile pursuit; or the State could insist that the property be run as an art-house cinema by the Cultural Cinema Consortium, which is made up of members of the Arts Council and the Irish Film Board.
It’s difficult to imagine the Light House pulling this one out of the bag, but at least there is a decent reason for hope that the space will not be swallowed up by a multiplex.
The Science Gallery is looking mightily pleased with itself of late – last night it won a Shorty award for Cultural Institution. The awards recognise organisations and individuals from around the world who work best with social media in their respective fields. Digital hats off and hearty binary congratulations to them all.
Things are looking grim across the water, with arts organisations around the UK bracing themselves for tomorrow’s announcements regarding what cuts the British Arts Council intends to implement. What was extraordinary was that earlier in the week the British Arts Council was told to sell off masterpieces to raise some cash for the coffers. The criticism came from a report to a parliamentary select committee on culture, which also demanded that the council get its house in order and stop “spending far too much on itself”.
While cuts are unavoidable in all sectors, this seems an extraordinarily foolish and short-sighted move, which would no doubt have that most British of prime ministers, Winston Churchill, spinning in his grave – when his then finance minister recommended to Churchill that he cut arts funding to save money for the war effort, he reputedly answered: “Then what are we fighting for?”
There will be no such resilience from the current British government, and this is a worrying development, because it could certainly give ideas to people closer to home. And if the notion of our Government selling off artworks belonging to the Irish State seems fanciful, consider this – activists are currently working hard to get the Government to publicly commit to not selling off Coillte, the national forestry company (two years ago the McCarthy report recommended that such State assets could be sold to generate revenue). In this context, flogging a few pictures seems mild in comparison to unloading entire land banks of woodlands.
Finally, for your lunchtime or post-work pleasure, can we recommend that you find an hour or two to see Heroes and Kings of the Shahnama at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin? In truth, you could easily lose an afternoon in this terrific exhibition. The Shahnama (Book of Kings) is the Iranian equivalent of the Táin Bó Cúailnge, and the CBL has brought together some 150 paintings, including the one below, depicting the verses. These were all produced in Iran and India between the 14th and 19th centuries and you will definitely need the numerous magnifying glasses to appreciate the dazzling artistry involved. We’ve recommended this one before, but it closes this weekend on April 3rd. By way of further persuasion, click here for an interview with curator, Dr Elaine Wright.