Irish people 'do not want to subsidise the arts' - Gleeson

Actor dismisses notion that arts spending would be better spent on hospital beds

Actor Brendan Gleeson has said Irish people want art but only if they do not have to subsidise it.  Mr Gleeson dismissed as a “bogus argument” the suggestion that State money spent on the arts would be better spent on public services.

Actor Brendan Gleeson has said Irish people want art but only if they do not have to subsidise it. Mr Gleeson dismissed as a “bogus argument” the suggestion that State money spent on the arts would be better spent on public services.

 

Actor Brendan Gleeson has said Irish people want art but only if they do not have to subsidise it.

Mr Gleeson dismissed as a “bogus argument” the suggestion that State money spent on the arts would be better spent on public services.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s Marian Finucane programme, Gleeson said arts was central to Irish culture, referencing traditional music as an example.

“We are mad keen about the arts when it doesn’t cost anything. We don’t think that in any way it needs to be subsidised,” he said.

“As soon as you look for something for the arts, you get the argument, you could get 10 hospital beds for that,” he said

Such an attitude does not exist in France, he said, where the public are comfortable subsidising arts. “The French put their money where their mouth is. It is a part of their identity.”

Mr Gleeson was asked about the perceived downgrading of the arts portfolio in the latest departmental reshuffle. It is now part of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

Gleeson suggested that the Government “throws it (the arts) around like an afterthought. It is a vital part of us instead of apologising for saying, ‘listen we might throw you a few bob at the end of the day if you say nothing and don’t criticise’”.

Mr Gleeson was on the show as ambassador for the Hospice Foundation and its annual Coffee4Hospice fundraiser which takes place on Thursday, September 15th.

He said the treatment of his late father at St Francis Hospice in Raheny restored his faith in humanity.

“There is absolutely no nonsense about people’s religion or standing on ceremony about anything other than humanity,” he said.

“The idea of looking after people is a kind of a gift for everybody involved.”

He also revealed that he will be launching film director John Boorman’s first novel Crime of Passion on Thursday night in Dublin.

Gleeson described it as a “mixture of neurosis and narcissistic egotism ... I never laughed so much.”