Lack of funds means cultural bodies must do more with less
Rather, the plan is about equipping institutions with what they need in terms of structures and support systems to face the challenges of the future and to provide more focused services to the public.
There has been commentary recently about the National Library, National Museum and National Archives. It is worth remembering that – right now – the National Archives is a full part of my department.
The National Museum and National Library worked in a similar way up to 2005, at which time corporate boards were introduced.
I am considering a range of options for these institutions such as sharing back office functions and whether savings and efficiencies would be made if these functions were incorporated into my department.
I also want to examine the governance of institutions and consider how boards or advisory groups operate, whether they offer added value, and whether they might perform a more outwardly proactive and international role in terms of fundraising and philanthropy.
These are just some of the options under consideration, and my department has been engaging with the cultural institutions since the Government published the reform plan last November.
That contact is continuing, and I recently met a group of the chairs of the national cultural institutions to listen to their views.
In a time of tight resources we have to maximise the use of every cent taxpayers give to every institution. These are the times we live in. I cannot accept the idea that examining reform possibilities amounts to an attack on the cultural infrastructure of the nation, as has been suggested by some.
In fact, the idea that any organisation or institution should be – or consider itself to be – above examination for reform is quite unhealthy, and a recipe for a bad deal for taxpayers who fund these institutions and for the public whom they serve.
These institutions perform a nationally important role and manage – on behalf of all of us – resources which are, quite literally, priceless.
My aim is to ensure that these institutions can work in the most effective and efficient way possible so that they can continue to preserve our past and inform our future.
Jimmy Deenihan is Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht