ISSUES surrounding the funding of the renowned visual arts course currently being given on Sherkin Island were raised in the Seanad by Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard.
Since 2007, noted Sen Lombard, over 70 graduates have passed through the programme, which is co-funded by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and Cork County Council.
‘It is a wonderful initiative that has really reinvigorated the arts, particularly the visual arts, in Cork, he said. ‘It has been very well received by everyone in West Cork, particularly those on Sherkin Island.’
But, he added, issues have arisen in the past few weeks over the funding of the programme. ‘Funding of such programmes is very important to ensuring development on the islands and in the tourism industry, which comprises a huge proportion of West Cork’s core industry.’
A small amount of money is required to keep it going, the senator said. ‘I hope the Minister will engage with the local authority and the community on the island so we can resolve the problem,’ he told the chamber.
He said there were 37 students on the programme at present. ‘They really comprise a great asset over the weekends when they are in the region. Working together, we can ensure communities such as that on Sherkin Island will survive. The Arts programme is very important in this regard. I hope the Minister of State, Deputy Joe McHugh, will at some stage come to the House to outline his vision for progress in this area and on the larger issue of how the islands can progress.’