Oscar nominations have showered on Irish film and at the roll-out of the red carpet, we crowd-cluster around Irish arts and culture. Success is sweet and to be celebrated. However, art does not fall from a glitter ball, ready-made. It is nourished in an ecosystem where artists are supported and ideas are rehearsed and developed.
In Ireland that ecosystem is malnourished. Too many cuts have stripped away confidence in our cultural community. In the arts we march to the beat of a different drum and insist to our better selves that, as dancers, singers, painters, actors, and directors, we occupy an irreplaceable position in Irish life.
Some say the divide in our country is whether we are an economy or a society first. The real debate is about whether as a nation we still have a spirit. Art is language without which we cannot speak or sing, mourn or celebrate. It is essential for life.
The nourishing infrastructure, from local government, to the Arts Council, to the Film Board, the Heritage Council and national cultural institutions is now unequal to supporting our art, scholarship, or heritage. The essential step I call for, is that this is called-out.
As the results from the general election unfold the Irish people want to hear from our politicians what they imagine and plan for our arts, culture, and heritage. By being pigeon-holed for festival days, creativity is diminished, under-unexplored. I purposely champion not just the Arts Council alone, but the wider, interplay between our heritage, our national collections, and cultural institutions.
2016 is an opportunity not just for commemoration; it demands vision. My call on the next government is to bring art, culture, and heritage back from the margins and to place it centre stage within our state.