Speaking from Leinster House the Sinn Féin spokesperson on the arts Sandra McLellan has expressed her disappointment at the Government’s failure to support the Private Members Motion on the arts.
Deputy McLellan said:
“Sinn Féin is deeply concerned by the proposal to merge the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Crawford Art Gallery and the National Gallery of Ireland. We are also opposed to the proposed merger of the National Archives and the Irish Manuscript Commission; and to any change in the “arm’s length principle” or to any proposals that would interfere with the independence of key artistic and cultural institutions.
“The Government has not produced any information regarding cost-benefit analysis, head- count reductions etc. that would justify the proposed changes yet it is hell bent on embarking on a process of amalgamations, mergers, dissolution of independent boards and non-renewal of vital leadership roles.
“In a time of fiscal austerity, cutbacks, mass unemployment and national despondency the arts offer a valuable and creative outlet for people. In a mature society that values expression and creativity the arts have the potential to enrich lives. They help us to think about the world and our place in it in a more imaginative, innovative and abstract way.
“I call on the Minister to respect and adhere to the ‘arm’s length principle’. He must also immediately establish an independent recruitment process to fill the CEO vacancies in the key cultural institutions and to meet with the National Campaign for the Arts.
“As we begin the decade of commemoration it is imperative that we have independent, robust, and well-funded national artistic and cultural institutions. Only then can the various commemorations be seen as an opportunity to revisit our past with the aim of building a more equal and caring society.
“Sinn Féin calls on the Minister to develop an all-Ireland approach to arts and culture. And we would urge him to remember that sometimes, there are very rare institutions, whose societal value far exceeds any monetary value.”