Merger of boards of cultural institutions
Sir, – It is most depressing to note that Minister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan refuses to respond in any meaningful way to the near-universal rejection of his plan for the National Library and National Museum by the academic community in Ireland (News Agenda, January 3rd). He appeals to us to give his plan a chance to work, but he doesn’t seem to recognise that his plan is to revert to the failed administrative structure which was reformed by the National Cultural Institutions Act 1997 that he now proposes to dismantle. In other words, his plan has been tried and has failed.
He also persists in providing misleading figures for the costs of the boards of the National Library and National Museum: he quotes historic 2011 figures, not current figures. The current figures would reflect the fact that the members of these boards have agreed to serve on a pro bono basis, and so the bulk of the savings which he seeks have already been achieved without the retrograde step of abolishing the boards.
The boards are essential in order to preserve the independence of these vital cultural institutions. Moreover, if (as he claims) Mr Deenihan wants to encourage philanthropic support from the private sector for the National Library and National Museum, I suggest that such support is much less likely to be forthcoming if these institutions are lost in the miasma of the Civil Service. Strong, independent and accountable corporate structures are necessary in order to attract philanthropic interest. – Yours, etc,