Letter to Paschal Donohoe TD (FG), Marylou McDonald TD (SF) and Maureen O’Sullivan TD (ind)

Regarding Arts Debate 22/ 06/ 2016






Hi Paschal, Marylou and Maureen,

I hope this finds you well and in fighting spirit.
As you know, there is a debate in the Dail on arts tomorrow, and on behalf of one of the live arts centres in your local constituency, I am urging you to attend. As Minister for Culture, you will have been aware of the extend of Ireland as a cultural experience. But this is the softer edge of our capability and professional artists have so much more potential. We are training artists across all the disciplines, investing in their development and education, and they stay for a short time whilst they find their feet, but as long as there is no middle range employer, as is sorely lacking in dance and theatre, they leave for the UK and base themselves abroad. It is then more prohibitive to engage them as we have to pay travel and accomodation for 2 months, which is expensive, as we all know. Theatre in particular has suffered a severe blow in the cut in revenue funding to middle range companies and so younger actors, writers, set designers and directors do not have the same chances to perform to smaller audiences or perform in new work or try to present work in mid range theatres and it has created a slightly stale older generation, an evacuation of talent and struggling independent houses.
There is a tendency for commissioners to think of artists as a free service and replace artists with members of the community who do arts. There is room for us all, but they are different services and the outcomes are necessarily different. This is why we invest in the training and the novice and experimental experience required to produce high quality players and meaningful, provocative work. Unless the support for that is restored, we will only produce soft edged culture and it will be subsumed into the UK panorama for ever. Ireland has such a strong sense of its artistry not just its culture that this would be demeaning and reflect a lack of self worth.
Please please fight for us to regain our position in the Dail with a proper ministry and in the budget with adequate support.
Thank you,
Best regards,
Vanessa Fielding