In this elec­tion, Ire­land’s arts com­mu­nity need­stobe­se­ri­ouslyag­i­tatingaboutits­fu­ture

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - COVER STORY -

Politi­cians are cur­rently roam­ing the land promis­ing the sun, the moon and all the f**** space a body needs. So it’s the right time for var­i­ous bod­ies of con­cerned cit­i­zens to come to­gether, do a spot of ag­i­tat­ing and get some re­sults. Strangely, how­ever, one con­stituency is ab­sent from the cast of gen­eral elec­tion 2016.

Such clien­telism is why we will soon have a rake of new In­de­pen­dent deputies sit­ting in the 32nd Dáil. And pester power is also why many of their de­mands will be met by who­ever wants to be taoiseach.

It’s strange, then, to note that artists are largely miss­ing from this discourse.

True, the Na­tional Cam­paign for the Arts re­leased a pre-elec­tion man­i­festo out­lin­ing mea­sures to get Ire­land off the bot­tom of the Euro­pean league for govern­ment in­vest­ment in cul­ture, and a call to mem­bers to con­tact their lo­cal would-be TDs. But aside from this pre-elec­tion strike by the lobby group for 466 Ir­ish arts bod­ies, there has been lit­tle in the nar­ra­tive about or from the sec­tor.

Of course, other is­sues – from hous­ing and health to education and jobs – will al­ways take prece­dence when an elec­tion is in full swing. Yet other, more lo­calised is­sues will inevitably be­gin to be sorted when the post-elec­tion jostling for power be­gins. Shouldn’t the arts com­mu­nity be tak­ing ad­van­tage of this op­por­tu­nity?

The rea­son why noth­ing is be­ing said about cul­ture in this elec­tion cam­paign is be­cause no one is push­ing them up the agenda. Maybe out­go­ing Min­is­ter for Fun Heather Humphreys is giv­ing it socks on the stump about the need to fund spa­ces for the next gen­er­a­tion of mu­si­cians, vis­ual artists and bal­let dancers. If so, it’s cer­tainly not mak­ing head­lines.

It’s not enough to leave it to the politi­cos, and you have to won­der about the ret­i­cence shown by the artis­tic com­mu­nity. This quar­ter al­ways have much to be says about how govern­ment and the political par­ties only re­gard the arts and cul­ture as win­dow-dress­ing. But when an op­por­tu­nity comes along to make a song and dance about it at a time when singing and danc­ing at­tracts a crowd, the op­por­tu­nity is spurned.

You can be sure that those elected to the Dáil will give plenty of lip ser­vice to the im­por­tance of arts and cul­ture when it comes to com­mem­o­rat­ing the Easter Ris­ing or any of the other gazil­lion cen­te­nary events over the next few years. It will be a far dif­fer­ent mat­ter, how­ever, when it comes to fund­ing and sup­port­ing the peo­ple who pro­duce this work year in and year out.

The time to make a noise about this im­bal­ance is now, when ev­ery politi­cian is out there mak­ing nice in re­turn for votes. Artists who were giv­ing out yards about re­duced fund­ing, fum­ing about cap­i­tal cuts and an­gry over the clo­sure of artis­tic spa­ces over the past few years are miss­ing a trick by not seiz­ing the mo­ment.


Bey­oncé For­ma­tion

(Columbia) Bey’s un­ex­pected new­bie is chock­ablock with the good stuff. Sound­ing like Ery­bah Badu in South­ern Gul mode here and Missy El­liott there,

For­ma­tion en­joys glitchy vroom from pro­ducer Mike WiLL Made-It. But the real mo comes from Bey­oncé chan­nelling some choice NOLA voodoo. And it’s right on time for Mardi Gras.


Com­pelling live force Sons of Kemet are com­ing to town – good news for fans of thump­ing jazz riffs. The for­mi­da­ble dou­ble- drum­ming four-pack are led by sax­o­phon­ist and clar­inetist Shabaka Hutch­ings, and their Lest We For­get What We Came Here to Do al­bum was one of the high­lights of 2015. Catch them at Dublin’s Sugar Club on April 6th, Belfast’s Black Box on April 7th, and Cork’s Triskel on April 8th.

It’s not enough to leave it to the politi­cos, and you have to won­der about the ret­i­cence shown by the artis­tic com­mu­nity

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