The Arts Council this morning welcomed the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins to its offices at Merrion Square, Dublin, as guest of honour at an event to mark its sixtieth year. (Scroll down for a full audio of President Higgin's speech).
The event was attended by the Chairman of the Arts Council, Pat Moylan; Board Members; Director Orlaith McBride and staff; in addition to members of Aosdána, the affiliation of creative artists in Ireland; former Chairpersons and Directors of the Arts Council; artists, representatives from Ireland's cultural institutions and the arts community.
The 1951 Arts Act established the Arts Council in December that year, and charged it with stimulating public interest; promoting knowledge, appreciation and practice of the arts; and improving standards. The first meetings of the Arts Council were held in January 1952.
Speaking today, Chairman Pat Moylan, said: "For over sixty years, since its foundation, the Arts Council has successfully overseen the development of the arts through periods of significant social and economic change. Today, more than ever, I feel the hand of history and the heart and soul of Irish creativity in these rooms. In 60 years, the light has not dimmed in each Council's efforts to achieve the best for artists and the people of Ireland and in building the country's self-image and reputation abroad."
Greeting the President of Ireland, Ms Moylan said it was "a pleasure and a truly great privilege" to welcome him to the Arts Council. "To have our Head of State and First Citizen here to share with us the celebration of our sixtieth year is a great honour indeed, one we deeply appreciate."
Ms Moylan acknowledged the President’s "tremendous contribution to public life" including his work during his time (1993-97) as Ireland's first Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht. She said the President, who is a writer and poet, holds "a strong conviction about the intrinsic value of the arts and their singular contribution to Irish identity."
Ms Moylan also referred to the President’s powerful inaugural speech, which "gave great prominence to and laid huge importance on the cultural life of the nation."
Full audio of President Higgin's speech