My Minutes of Monday's Campaign for the Arts Husting

 

I attended the husting Monday, which I think was a success. Each candidate was allocated three minutes (most went over their time), one candidate from each party was permitted to speak, though others could contribute when the floor was opened up. Fianna Fail did not attend.

Kathleen Lynch, Labour Party (Cork North Central) was the first to speak. She took a few moments to warm up, seeming to stick on the topic of “the last time I was elected” without it seeming relevant. Although she did expand on that thought by quoting from her former elimination speech; “We strive not just for bread alone but demand to smell the roses”. A thought that could have been better delivered.

She spoke of the Film Industry as being a large employer and reminded us that the last time Labour were in government they almost achieved their goal of every child having access to a musical instrument. Lynch stresses the point that support must not be given to large venues but also to individual artists and that it ought not be centralised in more populated areas. She made a very good point during the open floor  that highlighting the need for arts education.

Later John Gilroy, Labour Party (Cork North Central) claimed that, if in power, Labour would put €16.15 million into the arts. He also mentioned a plan for creating affordable studios for artists willing to contribute to public outreach.

Deirdre Clune, Fine Gael (Cork South Central) told us that she has been committed to the arts for some time, a long standing member of the arts committee and was City Mayor when Cork was the European City of Culture. She mentioned “encouraging and developing audiences” but I felt she could have expanded on how she was hoping to achieve that as she spoke mostly about how Irish arts perform abroad and how “it attracts people to the island”. She did outline the need to expand arts focus across different apartments (economics, communications and education). However, I feel more needed to be said, in detail, of supporting individual artists at a grass roots level.

An additional candidate from Fine Gael had not realised that it was one candidate per party policy and made a bit of a fuss about it. He yelped at the chairperson claiming it was “undemocratic” not letting him speak and that it was “not clear in the letter”. It made him appear childish and it was counter productive to the discussion, I did not catch his name.

John Adams, Independent (Cork North Central)  had prepared a speech, which he read out. This is not my preferred style of public speaking though that is not necessarily an indication of quality. He was bold with his words, saying that Triskel Art Centre and council arts offices were unapproachable to artists and that people on the most powerful arts boards have little desire in engaging with arts practitioners.

Adams raised concerns about position of arts officers being held by non-creatives and that generally there are too many administrators in the industry. He claimed art should be brought to a level so that everyone could feel included and concluded that he is “batting for the artists and wanted to bring that wealth to the public”. During the Q & A session he mistakenly called the organisation “The We Love the Arts Campaign” which is only a slogan of The National Campaign for the Arts that was stuck up on the walls. Oddly, this made him appear like he was not really familiar with the campaign and had just read the slogan from the poster.

Mick Barry, Socialist Party, United Left Alliance (Cork North Central) was frank that he was not going to be in the government (due to being a small party) but hoped to be a “voice for the people” locally. He believes that funding is key and that the government’s biggest mistake was the bail out of Anglo Irish Bank.

He mentioned that the play Galileo Galilei was a favourite of his and shared with us a scene in which a character, a poet, was having difficulty composing because of “the rent man skulking around the corner.” His general message was that this is “our society, our community”.

Ted Tynan, Worker’s Union (Cork North Central) also philosophised about bread and roses (very fitting imagery considering that it was Valentine’s day). An advocate for local disadvantaged communities, Tynan spoke of the wealth of talent in our communities. He spoke of his love for books, from which, he received his education. He is fully supporting of the arts. His primary concerns are job creation, unemployment and emigration.

Chris O’Leary, Sinn Féin (Cork South Central) had an assertive style of speaking. He has been involved in the arts throughout his lifetime. He spoke of the “cronies” of political parties on the arts council. He mentioned the FAS C.E. scheme and, although he was not criticising it, he wants to see real jobs being created.

Dan Boyle, Green Party (Cork South Central) pointed out that during the boom the increase in funding was not properly directed. He claimed that in elected his party would nominate artists to serve on the arts council and he believe that he art policies need to be informed by artists. He believes that we need to invest in the arts and concluded a positive note, reminding us that artists strive in times of recession.

Fergus O’Rourke, Independent (Cork North Central) talked about his children who are both emigrant arts professionals. He said he had limited resources and would not make empty promises. He is interested in employment generation and believes that the arts stimulate creativity. He presents himself as being and honest person and claims that “his heart is in the right place.


Diarmuid Cadhla, Independent (Cork South Central) spoke briefly during the open floor. He proposed that he need for funding for the arts should be decided by the people. Which is a myopic opinion as many people have not had the privilege of access to the arts. This prompted Katherine Lynch's comment on the need for increased arts education. Cadhla also spoke in Irish (sadly I could not quite follow this). No doubt he has a love for the language, but I wonder if it was directed and the Fine Gael representatives, given their recent proposals to end compulsory Irish at leaving cert level.

Some members of the audience made very relevant points. Patrick Cotter of the Munster Literature Centre pointed out that the stingy private industry had to be almost blackmailed to donate to local arts organisations. Pat Kiernan of Corcadorca emphasised that both the Arts Council and Culture Ireland are needed. He said that there was no boom for artists and pointed out that Fine Gael's response was focused on the international. Another speaker added that individual arts practitioners can not compete internationally.

The FAS CE schemes were mentioned again, with one person calling for the abolition of FAS and he said that such schemes eliminated jobs in his (our) industry. I agree with this, although I am not against internships and work placement programmes, I do believe that they can be abused. They ought to be a way of gaining extra experience and not the industry standard.

I have only outlined each candidates points and I have tried not to expand too much on my opinions. Otherwise, I fear this would be an endless post.


My apologies if I have misquoted anyone. Please contact me if I have. 

Civic Trust House also posted a report that expands on a few points I have not.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks a million for taking these excellent notes Pamela!

    I published my own report on the Civic trust Website here - http://www.civictrusthouse.ie/hustings2011.htm

    I am now slowly getting up the film of the event. The first section, which comprises Tom McCarthy's intro and Kathleen Lynch's speech has just uploaded. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJOs3st4PqA

    I'll put up the rest of links here as they load :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great! I know not everyone could attend so it will be very useful to have a video. Reading your report I see that I didn't pick up on a few points made, I'll have to have a look at the films!

    ReplyDelete