The arts: handle with care


NO politician should be above public and Dail scrutiny. No politician should be above admitting errors of judgment. But the call made by the Fianna Fail's spokesperson on arts, culture and heritage, Sile de Valera, for the resignation of the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, Michael D. Higgins, although defeated in the Dail yesterday, must have sent shivers down the spines of artists and art lovers all over the country.

The reason for this is that the structure built up since the appointment of the first cabinet Minister for the Arts three years ago is still extremely fragile. And it is important that it is recognised as such. There is no reason to believe that just one unfavourable political change would not scupper that structure and reverse many of the advances made since the present Minister's appointment.

And political change is inevitable. So there should be no complacency among people involved in the arts, and the much greater constituency of those who enjoy the arts and care passionately for their survival. There has to be a way of moving the arts up the agenda of politicians in all parties, so that they would see dismantling the structure which protects them as tantamount to political suicide. If the structure protecting the arts remains dependent on the arts ministry of Michael D. Higgins, a change of Minister - which will come sooner or later - will bring it crashing down.