Arts must be supported through economic crisis - Taoiseach

Over €3m in bursaries given to emerging artists over past three years

Pat Boylan Chair of the Arts Council photographed in their office on Merrion Square. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / The Irish Times

Pat Boylan Chair of the Arts Council photographed in their office on Merrion Square. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / The Irish Times

 

It was “vital,” no matter what the economic difficulties of the country, that emerging artists be supported financially by the State, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

Speaking at an event in Dublin today to celebrate the dispersal of over €3 million in Arts Council bursaries since 2010, he said recipients’ work was a vital contribution to the emotional welfare of society. With many recipients in attendance, and he addressed to them some of his remarks.

“What you do matters to our idea of who we are. It is important to the artistic life of our nation and of our people...Your work, your value to us as a country, as a society is a real value. You do need the support offered to you in these bursaries.

“It is vital that regardless of our straightened financial circumstances that you continue to be supported,” he said. “That we do speaks loud and speaks strong of the value and the importance of the artist in the heart of Irish people our country. It’s alchemy.”

He said the Arts Council since its foundation in 1951 had shown “real talent in recognising talent”.

The council is the body responsible for funding, developing and promoting the arts. Some 70 artists or artistic groups received bursaries up to a maximum of €15,000 each, for projects in such areas as literature, music , theatre, visual arts and architecture. Further bursaries will be announced in coming weeks.

Council director Orlaith McBride said the arts were ever more important as Ireland made its way through the current crisis. She said people turned to the arts in greater numbers at times of crisis, creatively as way of expressing themselves and in audiences as a way of experiencing themselves.

Pay Moylan, chair of the Council, pointed out the late Séamus Heaney was a past recipient of an Arts Council bursary.

“We are living in difficult times but no matter how difficult it is essential that we keep our eye on the potential Heaneys so that our communities will continue to benefit from great art and our country will maintain its extraordinary reputation for creativity.”

The bursaries gave artists, particularly at the beginning of their careers, the “breathing space” to develop. “It’s an award that has a proven ability to kick-start a long and a fruitful career.”

l Details of how to apply for a bursary are available on the website artscouncil.ie