Reviewing Culture Ireland
Sir, – At every available opportunity, the Government informs us that when recovery comes, it will be export-led, and that our collective future lies in creativity and innovation. We rightly applaud the achievements of agencies such as IDA Ireland, whose international field work sows the seeds of foreign direct investment and subsequent job creation. Why then, in cultural export, a sphere in which we are acknowledged as global players, is the Departure of Public Expenditure and Reform on the cusp of “rationalising” the only State agency dedicated to maintaining Ireland’s cultural status in this highly competitive international arena (Editorial, Culture Ireland, March 7th).
We are sympathetic to Brendan Howlin’s onerous task in putting our public finances in order, applaud the principle of budgetary discipline, and welcome meaningful reform in our sector. While hastily eroding Culture Ireland’s modest financial and structural independence might optically appear to deliver on that, in reality it will only serve to critically undermine an agency whose remit is vitally important to our strategic interests.
That its work is less tangible than those in the IT, tourism, agri-business and pharma sectors does not justify the unravelling of a body which can leverage our cultural presence not just in the historical centres of our Diaspora, but in the emerging Bric (Brazil, Russia, India, China) markets also.
Come March 17th, many of our senior politicians will set aside the day to represent Ireland’s interests abroad. It is an important practice, lazily and unfairly derided, and now more vital than ever as we look to rehabilitate our international reputation. Ask our artists. They are perpetually in the field, the trade mission that never sleeps.
Our economic cupboard may be bare, but directly overhead lies a mantelpiece groaning under the weight of Oscars, Tonies, Grammies, Golden Globes, Mercuries, Man Bookers, Emmys and Baftas, all of which attest to the potency of the Irish imagination and the esteem in which its held worldwide. If we genuinely believe this is a unique and precious asset, then surely more support is the sensible approach, not less? – Yours, etc,