Lenny Abrahamson calls out Irish Government on Arts funding

Lenny Abrahamson Irish Government Arts Funding Department
Lenny Abrahamson

Taoiseach Enda Kenny – and other Irish politicians – just exploit Irish writers, performers and film makers for photo ops and have no interest in, or understanding of, the arts, Oscar nominated film maker Lenny Abrahamson said this week.

He made his remarks following Mr Kenny’s whistle stop trip to Washington on Tuesday to attend the launch of Ireland 100, a three-week celebration of Irish arts and culture at the Kennedy Center (sic).

Abrahamson, Oscar nominated for Room which has just been released on DVD and digital streaming, said that “the Irish political class neither understands nor values the arts”.

He called for “a dedicated minister at Cabinet who actually cares and knows about the arts.”

At the moment it is Heather Humphreys who has ministerial responsibility for the arts in Ireland in her Department of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts & the Gaeltacht.

Abrahamson tweeted:

“Despite all the lip service, it’s clear from lack of action that the Irish political class neither understands nor values the arts.” he said.

He said a dedicated department for arts and heritage is the best way to guarantee a strong voice for the arts to ensure adequate public funding.

Ms. Humphreys responded to his tweet and said she would be making the case for more public funding. Mr. Abrahamson later told RTE Radio he was impressed she responded to his tweet and he would be following up on her promise.

He told RTE: “There is the potential, I think, to create a really world class industry in film and television and animation. The quality is there.

“If proper investment and strategic investment was made that could be grown hugely. And the idea which I think that the government still seems to have of the arts of some sort of optional decorative extra that you can add in when there’s a few quid swilling around and pull out when you’re not.

“First of all that’s a really crazy way to invest because the gains you make when you invest are wiped out when you don’t. But also it’s to totally misunderstand the positive social and economic impact that the industry can have.”

Meanwhile a campaign #ArtsDeptNow has begun trending on Twitter and across social media platforms.

In addition a petition has been circulated, calling for Minister Heather Humphreys to: “Give arts, culture and heritage the respect it deserves by creating an independent Department and setting a funding target of 0.6% of GDP (the EU average spend on arts/culture). Ireland has one of the lowest levels of public support in the EU.”

Check out the petition here: www.my.uplift.ie

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