SIR – Budget 2017 disappointed on so many levels, but the 16% reduction in the Arts budget was a missed opportunity to develop a valued but often under-resourced sector.
The arts in Ireland contribute so much to our society though it is often intangible and sometimes is difficult to measure its economic worth. However, the arts do make a major contribution.
Irish music and literature for example are renowned worldwide and draw huge numbers of tourists to our shores. The arts have an enormous societal impact, not only in the major urban areas but also in rural Ireland.
Witness for example the impact of small theatres in numerous villages and small towns. The benefits are enormous and cannot be measured in economic terms alone.
The 1916 commemoration events which required public funding highlighted the value of our artistic community. To cut the funding was a missed opportunity to support and develop a valued resource.
The Labour party budget proposal to retain the €40 million from the 1916 commemoration events makes sense. The €19 million loss in capital funding will see many potential projects fail to materialise with a loss to local communities, including local employment opportunities.
It had the potential to help the arts grow and develop with new and imaginative projects across the country, yet in the scale of the budget and government spending, the money cut is minuscule.
The Labour Party also proposed reforming the social welfare code to support artists across the arts sector as many are struggling to make any kind of living from their work. This needs to be looked at if we are to support our artists to grow and develop the arts in Ireland.
It is a missed opportunity.
Labour Party member,