From its humble beginnings in 1952 with then Director Patrick J. Little, the Arts Council had one secretary, a messenger boy and a budget of £10,000. The first grant for the sum of £500 was given to the International PEN Congress, representing poets, playwrights, essayists, editors and novelists.
With this Critical Voices publication, we turn to our artists as essayists to critically reflect back on their own journeys and experiences, and to contemplate on how far we have come, who we are today and where we still need to go. I feel honoured to lead this organisation at this time; we are supporting more artists than ever, in more ways than ever. We are committed to equality, diversity and inclusion, and we hold public engagement in the arts with equal significance.
We work in partnership with many other organisations, from arts organisations to other public sector partners, to ensure that the arts continues to be understood as the vital heartbeat of our social, cultural and economic wellbeing. The role of the artist is always to question, to reflect and to make bold steps forward, and I wish to offer my heartfelt thanks to Rita Duffy, Sandy Fitzgerald, Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh, Joselle Ntumba, Beulah Ezeugo and Kevin Rafter for taking the time to critically reflect on the passing of the decades, what matters now and to imagine new horizons. We have come a long way and we will continue to evolve, to learn and to lead, ensuring that no matter where we live or our personal circumstances, everyone on this island has the opportunity to create, engage with, participate in and enjoy the arts.
Find the complete booklet here