The organisers of an arts degree programme on Sherkin Island had to apply to Cork County Council for funding just like everyone else.
Municipal officer, Justin England, explained to members of the West Cork Municipal District that budget is down this year from €50,000 to €43,000.
A few years ago, there were fears that the Council would withdraw its support for the BA Visual Arts programme and it became a hot topic at several meetings.
Mr England confirmed that a three-year agreement with the local authority ended with the last academic year.
He said the Council now has no binding commitment to provide funding, but the organisers could apply and, if successful, the money will come from the islands’ fund.
When some councillors expressed concern, Mr England assured them saying, ‘We have funded it from this scheme before.’
Cork County Council accepted applications by post and email before the mid-March deadline and the successful applicants are due to be announced after the April 9th meeting of the West Cork Municipal District.
Mr England contacted the island representatives to let them know that applications were being sought and details were also put up on the Council’s website.
‘How secure is the funding for the arts degree programme?’ is what Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) wanted to know. ‘I hope we won’t have the same obstacles as before because this is a real lifeline for Sherkin. They don’t need the worry of it!’
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) agreed saying, ‘This course has been a massive plus for the island all year around. People have even settled on the island afterwards.’
The project co-ordinator with the Sherkin Island Development Society (SIDS), Aisling Moran, told The Southern Star, ‘We are hopeful that Cork County Council will commit to the long-term funding of the Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts (BAVA) programme.
‘It is vital,’ she added, ‘that both the programme partners – namely the department of community rural affairs, the Uillinn Arts Centre and the Technical University Dublin – as well as the students, receive confirmation that funding for the September 2021 intake will be made available.’
She said, ‘We are very grateful for the funding from all our partners towards the degree programme and we understand that there is a scheme we can apply to.
‘However we need to know that we have funding in place far in advance, so that local people can commit to undertaking the Arts Degree programme and have security around its continuance. There are unique time sensitivities surrounding this programme.
‘This programme is a lifeline for the sustainability of Sherkin Island. It is great value for money for the Council. TU Dublin provides funding for all the academic resources with Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre being the industry partner and SIDS providing local on-the-ground support.
‘Of the remaining costs - which ensure that the programme remains embedded in the Sherkin Island community - the Department of Community and Rural Affairs provide 75%, with Cork County Council providing 25%.
‘We would be hopeful that all parties would be in agreement to continue with this essential social, cultural, and economic programme for the islands and West Cork.
‘This is a ‘win win’ for everyone, it raises the profile of our whole region and brings educational and employment opportunities to the West Cork area,’ she said.