Government views arts and artists as ‘extras in world where politics is show business’

Coalition has ‘fundamental attitude of disrespect’ for the arts, Fianna Fáil claims

The Coalition parties “see the arts as an occasionally useful platform but have no fundamental regard or feeling for them at all,” Fianna Fáil spokeswoman on arts Niamh Smyth claimed.  Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The Coalition parties “see the arts as an occasionally useful platform but have no fundamental regard or feeling for them at all,” Fianna Fáil spokeswoman on arts Niamh Smyth claimed. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The Government has been accused of having a “fundamental attitude of disrespect” to the arts.

The Coalition parties “see the arts as an occasionally useful platform but have no fundamental regard or feeling for them at all,” Fianna Fáil spokeswoman on arts Niamh Smyth claimed.

Ms Smyth said those at the centre of the Creative Ireland project, a five-year Government initiative, “are now at the centre of the Taoiseach’s political communications project in Government buildings”.

She said it was a “seamless passage and an apt one” and said Creative Ireland had been developed “as a cadet school for the biggest show in town, which is in Government buildings”.

The Cavan-Monaghan TD said the Government view of the artist was as “an extra in a world that sees politics as show business and in which the ultimate political aspiration is to be star of your own movie”.

She added: “The multiple video clips of Ministers ‘performing’ as politicians over the past few days was a cartoon of politics. It is a caricature of what was promised to artists and the creative industries.”

Speaking later, however, Minister for Culture Heather Humphreys pointed to €300 million in additional funding for the State’s “cultural and creative heritage” and an additional €90 million in capital funding between 2018 and 2021 an increase of almost 50 per cent.

Ms Humphreys said “this points to the Government’s clear commitment to incrementally increasing arts and culture funding over the coming years”.

The Minister added that “it also acknowledges the enormous contribution that arts, culture and creativity make to our nation’s fabric, identity and well-being”.

Ms Humphreys said “the Creative Ireland programme is already yielding positive results in both rural and urban communities with more and more people engaging with creativity than ever before.

“I am determined to build on this momentum in the coming year by prioritising funding increases to key institutions, agencies and initiatives which deliver arts and culture.”

The €170 million culture budget for 2018 is targeted at “increasing citizen engagement and creativity through the five pillars of the Creative Ireland programme”.

Earlier Minister for Children Katherine Zappone has described the budget as a strong foundation for building a “Republic of Equals”, in apparent reference to the Taoiseach’s contrasting “Republic of Opportunity”.

In the ongoing Dáil Budget 2018 Ms Zappone said the budget measures were modest and small but “they have to be as our resources are modest and small”.

She said one are she wanted to see more resources for was low paid workers. “We have at 24 per cent, the highest percentage of low paid workers in the EU.”

While people on low incomes had received “small gains” in the budget, their incomes were little more than the minimum wage and “not enough to experience much of the value of reductions in the USC and income tax”.

She said “the budget is to be welcomed for what it is. I support the measures it contains and look forward to using its strong foundations to continue our work towards a Republic Equals.”