The Irish Arts Council has Now Cut Funding to The Western Writers Centre. (20/01/2009)

I put a post up on the site in very recent times regarding the severe funding cuts to the Irish Writer’s Centre in Parnell Square. The Centre will receive 0%  Arts Council funding in the period 2008-2009.

Last evening I got a petition from from a group of artists and writers involved in bringing literature and literacy to the West of Ireland. They called for reinstatement of funding to the Western Writer’s Centre.

WWC has been involved in organising book publishing,competitions, innovative readings for some period now. One of its founders, Fred Johnson was a founder member of the excellent Cúirt Literary Festival which gave us college kids a chance to meet Luminaries such as Tony Harrison and Allen Ginsberg. They started many a poet on their road. It was with great offence on behalf of Johnson who I spoke to by email today that I am printing up this notice .

.  I feel like saying Fie , an irregular enough occurrence .

I will update this post with links into the Cúirt Festival Programmes which are (as mentioned, historical). There was a Magic triangle occurring between the small hotels, Kenny’s Bookshop and Charlie Byrne’s which brought people from all over the globe into little pubs to talk about poetry , friends and enemies were made for life. I am sending this little link to Fred cos he has to know how his work changed lives for many writers.

The petitions forms and information on the utterly contemptible cuts to arts innovators are now on a few sites and the forms have been sent to people in the community, if you wish to sign please do.

Links to the leakage: Petition: Cúirt: IWC : Poetry Ireland : Irish Arts Council are contained in this link. I will update them separately later.

STATEMENT FROM FRED JOHNSTON :

“I write here in a personal capacity. I am immensely grateful for the fact that the recent funding cuts to the Western Writers’ Centre – Ionad Scribhneoiri Chaitlin Maude – Galway are up on site and being discussed and that people have taken the time to sign our petition. The generosity of both pocket and spirit shown by writers in the past fortnight has been stunning. ‘The Forge at Gort’ festival will continue on March 27th as a result.

Deeply shaken by the cuts, I was further shaken to read how this decision had been arrived at. The removal of funding from the Irish Writers’ Centre in Dublin is appalling and perhaps the two events are not entirely unrelated. The Council appear to me to have retreated to an old view (using the recession as a cover) of institutionalising the arts: there is no room, in such a view, for new things. Clearly the Western Writers’ Centre is viewed by some as a threat to a comforting and comfortable status quo where everything could be managed safely: hence every innovation, every award or prize we won, was perceived as a threat, not something to be lauded.

At the same time, criticism of the arts in Galway, for instance, is frowned upon and seen as ‘divisive’ – clippings of letters I had published in local papers critical of the arts in Galway were sent to the Arts Council by a concerned citizen. I found this particularly disturbing, an Orwellian view of the nature of free speech. Documents attempting to deride the Western Writers’ Centre and even undermine me personally have been sent anonymously to the Arts Council before now.

There is a politics being played out here and it remains to be seen whether the Council will consider it the wisest thing. Removing funding from two of the only three writers’ centres in the country will contribute to, not prevent, divisiveness or ‘fracture,’ a Tony Soprano word the Council seems fond of; it will contribute greatly to triumphalism among some and dejection and resentment among others. There is true divisiveness amongs arts’ groups in Galway city (this posting is already being sent to the Arts Council!) but the Arts Council will not or cannot investigate it. Their reluctance is curious. Interestingly, the media seem very reluctant to discuss the implications of withdrawal of funds from these two organisations.

Clearly the Council view the messenger and not the message as the most dangerous thing. Finding a scapegoat rather than examining why and how bad things happen is clearly a happier choice at Merrion Square. ” [ENDS]

The Arts Council’s Determination to Shut Down the Western Writers’ Centre is A Victorian Melodrama,

December 2010.

The Arts Council have refused to fund the Western Writers’ Centre, Galway {Ionad Scríbhneoirí Chaitlín Maude}under the Small festivals and Events Scheme, to produce the fifth Forge at Gort Literatrure festival, scheduled for March.

Sheridan Le Fanu: The Dublinocentric Arts Council now inhabit his former home

Sheridan Le Fanu: The Dublinocentric Arts Council now inhabit his former home

Expressing his frustration at the decision, the Centre’s Director, author Fred Johnston, said “One may gauge the Arts Council’s ‘concern.’ I telephoned the relevant officer and an answering machine said she’d be back on November 16th!” Fred Johnston added that it was one more a reminder of how little the Arts Council cared for art outside the city of Dublin and its development in the regions. “No recognition of Gort’s role in the Celtic Renaissance through its proximity to Coole Park, for instance, would be possible in The Arts Council. They wouldn’t even be able to find the town on a map. The Arts Council are determined to render the Western Writers’ Centre inoperable and have been so determined for a number of years. By some in Galway, the establishment of the Centre is considered a threat. And this in spite of its being part of the City Development Plan. It would be interesting to know whether the Council have been influenced towards their stance.”

He added that several Labour and one Independent Councillor had expressed support for the Centre but had refused to do so in print. “So I won’t be voting Labour and I won’t be voting for that particular Councillor. They all seem terrified of the City Arts Office.”

Mr Johnston pointed out that at a meeting with the Arts Council at the end of 2008, when the Centre’s programming grant was withdrawn apparently on foot of a tranche of press-clippings sent to them under an assumed name, he was told in no uncertain terms that the Council did not welcome criticism. “The clippings were of letters I had published in papers critical of the arts.” He added that the Festival is now in serious need of sponsorship and funding if it is to take place – inquiries to 087.2178138 – and that he would welcome members of the pubic making their views felt directly to the Arts Council at 70 Merrion Square, Dublin 2 (+353 1 618200) (Photo: Farce Council housed in former home of Sheridan le Fanu, Dublin)

IWC Funding Cuts by the Newly appointed Irish Art’s Council.

Western Writers @ IMC

Poets think in Images/Politicians think in words.

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