ARTS FOR ALL. Seán Ó Fearghaíl TD. Fianna Fáil s Policy for the Arts JANUARY PDF


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JANUARY 2015 ARTS FOR ALL Seán Ó Fearghaíl TD FIANNA FÁIL WHIP & SPOKESPERSON ON DEFENCE; ARTS & CULTURE; CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Fianna Fáil believes that the arts are central to the wellbeing and advancement of the Irish people. Our policy paper is based on three principles: Protecting the independence of the arts community; Ensuring a stable, sustainable and secure funding model for the arts; Enabling full community engagement and benefit from State arts funding. As a Party, we have always sought to be at the vanguard of promoting the arts in Ireland. We hold dear the positive contribution that a thriving arts and culture sector makes to the Irish nation. Fianna Fáil has a long record of supporting Irish arts and culture. Our aspirations have been matched by our actions. Between 2005 and 2010 alone, we delivered over 1.1 billion in investment for the sector. This Arts Policy Document seeks to build and consolidate on the impressive contribution which has been made by the arts community since the foundation of the State. FIANNA FÁIL S POLICY FOR THE ARTS WILL SEEK: To protect the arm s length principle which promotes The Arts Council s political autonomy in disbursing state funding to artists and arts organisations; To guarantee the independence of the National Cultural Institutions and fund them adequately; To enhance arts provision in our education system and, in particular, increase music provision in primary schools; To create a Cultural Trail for Dublin enhancing the city s offering as a tourist destination;. To support, in particular, Irish music and dance, seeking to embrace fully within the arts sector the organisations which provide education, support and events in these areas; To ensure that Local Authorities implement a local arts action plan which benefits local communities and local artists and brings the arts directly to the people; To conduct an independent external review of the Arts Council procedures for all grants and funds allocated and guarantee transparency and fairness in those allocations; To re-establish Culture Ireland as an independent entity to promote Irish arts and culture internationally; To disclose fully the salaries of CEOs and Directors of arts organisations which are in receipt of government funding either from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht or from the Arts Council; To publish the criteria for the selection of future biannual Cities of Culture to ensure a fair process for all; To promote an awareness of the role of arts in society and to place philanthropy at the heart of that awareness campaign; To foster greater dialogue and partnership between the National Cultural Institutions and the Universities of Ireland through a series of symposia sponsored by the joint Ministers for Educations and Skills and Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht. CONTENTS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1 INTRODUCTION 2 ARTS AND EDUCATION 3 THE ARTS AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT 4 THE ROLE OF THE ARTS COUNCIL 4 CULTURAL DIPLOMACY AND CULTURE IRELAND 5 PROMOTING UNIQUE IRISH CULTURE 5 CENTRALISED GOVERNMENT FUNDING AND TRANSPARENCY 6 NATIONAL CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS 6 CREATING A CULTURE TRAIL IN DUBLIN 7 PARTICIPATION AND PHILANTHROPY 7 MAKING THE ARGUMENT FOR THE ARTS 8 1 INTRODUCTION In the year of 2015 we find ourselves in the first phase of the Decade of Centenaries which will be significant in the national calendar. These centenaries mark many auspicious events within the early life of the Irish state and chart an important period in Irish history. The Home Rule Campaign, the Dublin Lockout, the breakout of World War 1, the 1916 Rising, the War of Independence, the foundation of the Free State and the Civil War will be commemorated, discussed and debated across Ireland as we try to come to terms with the milestone events of 100 years ago. How do we begin to understand the events of history? Where do we turn to find access routes into our past and into our history? For many of our citizens the most accessible route into our shared past is through art: film, fiction, theatre, music, song, painting, photography. Over the decade of centenaries we may find that art is as useful as history in finding ways to communicate who we are, what we have experienced and, indeed, to shape who we might become in the future. In Ireland we are blessed with a range of National Cultural Institutions, many of which provide free entry into collections of visual art, music, documentary heritage and archive. These institutions are the custodians of Irish culture and they are tasked with the guardianship of the treasures of Irish culture. From the founding of the state, and indeed, earlier, Irish people have relied on these national cultural institutions to collect, preserve and protect the material of Irish culture. Over the Decade of Centenaries to come it is to those galleries, libraries, museums, theatres and archives that we will turn for their expert guidance. Yet, over recent years they have endured severe cuts in funding and continue to operate within the context of the public sector recruitment ban. Fianna Fáil acknowledges the unique role of the National Cultural Institutions and values their independence, autonomy and expertise. For many years cultural provision in Ireland did not exist outside of these entities and, now, after a number of years of austerity, Fianna Fáil recognises that they cannot withstand further cuts. This document sets out an arts policy that recognises an already developed arts infrastructure which has been planned, built and resourced at national and at local level. It seeks to build on previous investment and expertise and to clearly connect planning and funding of national and local arts. In recognition of the current economic climate it is also a policy that is more reliant on ideas in particular, the store of arts plans, documents and expert policies that await implementation - than additional resources. 2 ARTS AND EDUCATION In 2008 the Arts Council published a report by the Special Committee on Arts in Education which began, Arts provision for children both in and out of schools is arguably the single greatest fault line in our cultural provision. With more than 800,000 citizens of school-going age in Ireland this must be a headline arts priority. Improving arts provision in schools is about developing both the artists and the audiences of the future. Fianna Fáil welcomes the spirit of the Arts Charter and supports the inter-departmental co-operation in the Arts and Education area. However well intentioned, many of its initiatives rely on the publicly funded artists and organisations to donate time to education projects. Instead of relying on these ad hoc donations, Fianna Fáil sees an urgent need to increase the joined up thinking between the government s funding agency, The Arts Council and the Department of Arts and the Department of Education in a more strategic way. When in government Fianna Fáil will apply a policy that builds on a number of Arts Council recommendations that remain, as yet, unimplemented. 1. Formalise the advisory role of the Arts Council to the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. 2. Establish an advisory role for the National Cultural Institutions so that their expertise can feed into the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. 3. Build on the cooperation of the Arts Charter to set up a dedicated National Arts in Education Development Unit. 4. Cost and consider the implementation of the recommendation of the 1979 Arts Council Review to increase music provision in primary schools by the creation of a fleet of peripatetic music teachers so that when funding becomes available through the exchequer in the future that this plan might be ready for implementation. 3 THE ARTS AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT Local government delivers services directly to the citizen. In the same way that it delivers services such as water, housing, planning and the environment, the 2003 Arts Act required local authorities to prepare and implement plans for the development of the arts within their functional areas and, in so doing, to take account of government policies on the arts. Over the years this led to an increased investment in the arts at local level and to dedicated planning and integration of arts plans with local area plans. With the appointment of expert personnel over these years the Local Authorities contribution to larger cultural policy became more significant. In addition, the National Development Plan also directed funding towards local arts projects and infrastructure. The result was a large regional network of county venues, theatres and arts centres which were built to supplement arts provision in line with national policy. Many Local Authorities continued to invest in programmes to support individual artists and in participation programmes for citizens at a local level and in capital development. We support this integration of arts funding within local government. As outlined in the Fianna Fáil paper on Local Government Reform, we believe that this local funding safeguards against the control and dominance of power in centralised government. However, the funding constraints of recent budgets have exposed a dis-connect between national arts policy and local arts policy. In some instances, regional venues which were once funded through the Arts Council and the Local Authority have had funding cut by the Arts Council because of their judgement that the Local Authority should be funding them more substantially. In other cases the Arts Council has reduced its funding because it believes that the Local Authority isn t contributing its fair share. This is one example of absence of adequate policy to connect funding between the national and local level. Fianna Fáil calls on the current Minister to clarify the relationship between the Arts Council and the Local Authorities in respect of joint funding and to identify and communicate the policies and mechanisms of decision making about funding assessment and allocation. In light of the abolition of Town Councils, Fianna Fáil calls on the newly constituted County Councils to continue to integrate arts planning within their strategic county plans and to ensure that arts organisations previously funded by Town Councils continue to receive subvention so that previous investment is not squandered and so that the infrastructure will survive into the future when resources become more plentiful. Fianna Fáil in Government will require that each County Council in consultation with local artists, educational authorities and festival organisers should organise, coordinate and publish an annual action plan for the arts. This plan should outline key activities and goals in developing and promoting the arts in that county, bringing art to the community. Historically, the amount of arts funding at local level represented a small amount when compared with the overall national spend. However, the Local Authority s autonomy in its disbursement of funding continues to provide a bulwark against what is currently an increasingly powerful central government in terms of arts provision. Fianna Fail in Government will require that the Percentage for Arts scheme will be applied to each public capital project of 100,000 or more. THE ROLE OF THE ARTS COUNCIL The Arts Council is a government body which is funded to work with artists and arts organisations for the benefit of the arts, and to be the expert body on the arts in government. For over 50 years, the Arts Council has been tasked with the generating of cultural policy. It has commissioned expert reports and made recommendations in the areas of education, local government, arts participation and audience development. Instead of diverting public funds into commissioning further expert studies Fianna Fáil acknowledges the Arts Council s vital role in policy development and is committed to implementing some of the key recommendations from the Arts Council s stock of excellent and thoughtful arts plans from 1979 to the present. When in government, the Fianna Fáil party will protect the arm s length principle which promotes The Arts Council s autonomy in disbursing state funding to artists and arts organisations. This principle allows the Arts Council and its expert arts personnel to assess grant applications and make independent, informed decisions according to agreed and clear criteria. Given the current government s increasing tendency to centralise funding within the Department of the Arts this arm s length principle is more important than ever. However, for the arm s length principle to function, the integrity of the institution in question must be beyond reproach. Reports of conflict of interest within the Arts Council must be thoroughly and quickly investigated by an independent body to assess any shortcomings or failures. An internal review of the Arts Council procedures by the Arts Council itself is not adequate to reassure both tax payers and the grant applicants of its transparency. A thorough external review should be carried out immediately to clarify the procedures utilised in grant assessment and allocation. Transparency and accountability in public bodies is vital at all times. The funding of the arts is no exception and its standards and code of practice must be thoroughly examined in order to restore faith in the Arts Council itself and, indeed, its role as a funding body as well as an agency for policy development. 4 CULTURAL DIPLOMACY AND CULTURE IRELAND Set up in 2005 with the remit to promote Irish arts and culture internationally, Culture Ireland has ensured the continuous presence of Ireland abroad. Prior to 2005, Ireland was the only county in the EU not to have a dedicated body promoting its cultural profile internationally. Despite subsequent funding cuts (from Euro 7m in 2011 to 2.5m in 2013) to Culture Ireland, it has attempted to keep non-commercial Irish art and culture visible in the international arena. Fianna Fáil opposed the government decision in 2012 to merge its functions into the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. This decision was made as part of the Government s Reform Plan under the guise of streamlining state bodies and so called quangos. Fianna Fáil sees this move as one of several steps taken by this government to undermine the autonomy and independence of arts promotion and provision and to dismantle the infrastructure of arts provision outside of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The removal of the post of CEO of Culture Ireland, a contract post, and its replacement with Director of Culture Ireland who is a civil servant is part of this increased centralisation. We propose the reinstatement of a structure which would allow Culture Ireland to work closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs, the IDA and Tourism Ireland while maintaining its integrity as a body with artistic expertise. As the Decade of Centenaries continues we will be relying on our artists to seek out opportunities for cross border collaboration between north and south. As funding becomes available we will be encouraging a focus on projects with a north south collaborative element. In the same way, other cross border partnerships could be incentivised for artistic collaboration in England, Scotland and Wales. PROMOTING UNIQUE IRISH CULTURE Ireland is blessed with its own unique cultural offering such as our traditional music, dance and song. For too long, this aspect of Irish culture has been seen as separate to the mainstream artistic community s activities. This is a disservice to those cultural organisations and to our traditional culture. Fianna Fáil will seek to ensure that organisations such as Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann who have contributed hugely to the advancement of Irish music and culture will be granted the resources necessary to enhance further the offering of education, support and event organisation which they have excelled at. We will also ensure that the independent Culture Ireland utilises the already existing network of traditional Irish musicians across the globe to promote Irish culture abroad. Furthermore, we will seek to direct state agencies involved in the arts to connect into the huge energy of our diaspora through the GAA and Irish clubs which exists in many countries throughout the world. 5 CENTRALISED GOVERNMENT FUNDING AND TRANSPARENCY The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht holds responsibility for arts, culture, music, film, the national cultural institutions and Irish language and traditional arts. According to the 2003 Arts Act, the Minister is responsible for Irish arts at home and abroad. Recent large scale funding decisions made by central government through the agency of the Department of the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht have been taken without the necessary transparency and accountability that should characterise major subventions. The process which led to the Limerick City of Culture funding decision, for example, was clouded in confusion as was the selection of Limerick as the inaugural location. Fianna Fáil is committed to a transparent process for the allocation of all state funding for the arts. Funding to the Arts Council, the statutory agency tasked with the development of the arts has received several cuts over consecutive years and yet the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (which funds the Arts Council) has been able to allocate large sums without any process or protocol. Fianna Fáil calls on the Minister to publish the criteria for the selection of future Cities of Culture to ensure a fair process for all. Fianna Fáil commits itself to continuing a Centre of Culture programme for cities and other urban areas in Ireland. In the same spirit Fianna Fáil calls for accountability and full disclosure of salaries of CEOs and Directors of arts organisations which are in receipt of government funding either from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht or from the Arts Council. Fianna Fáil commits to the principle of transparency of appointments to all vacancies on state boards of our national cultural institutions. These positions will be advertised and filled in an open and transparent manner. The relevant Oireachtas committee will be centrally involved in the appointment process. NATIONAL CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS The National Cultural Institutions of Ireland are the repositories of our heritage and culture and play a fundamental role in the provision of arts and culture to Irish citizens. Traditionally, other less well-resourced bodies in the arts sector have relied on them to embrace a leadership role in terms of best practice, excellence and remuneration. However, in recent years the National Cultural Institutions have experienced major budget cuts - some of up to 40%- and are subject to the public service recruitment ban which has left them constrained in terms of the service they can provide to the public. The roll back of the 1997 Act which established the autonomy of the National Cultural Institutions by the Minister for Arts has been widely greeted with dismay. We too believe that the amalgamation of the National Archive, National Library and the Irish Manuscripts Commission and the dissolution of their respective boards is a regressive act which will have long term consequences for cultural provision in Ireland. Culture Ireland has already been subsumed in the Department of Arts and it is hard not to see the move to limit the independence of these institutions as a further act of centralising power within their parent Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Despite requests from Fianna Fáil to see evidence of the costs saving value of these amalgamations the government has not provided a credible cost benefit analysis to back it up. When in power Fianna Fáil will roll back these regressive measures which dilute the in
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