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Growth in Traditioan Arts Sector needs Full time Arts Officer

25 November, 2008

Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff has called on the Arts Council to recruit a full time Traditional Arts Officer.

Speaking today Mr McElduff who also serves as Chairperson of the Assembly Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee said:

"I have written to Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council regarding its allocation of funding for the various art forms in percentage terms. The promotion of Traditional Arts cannot possibly be taken forward without the appointment of a dedicated full-time Traditional Arts officer. The result is that the full potential is not being harnessed in any part of the north. "Up until recently this post was filled on a full-time basis. When the post became vacant, however, it was not readvertised as a full-time dedicated post and i believe that the Arts Council is not recognising the true importance or potential of this sector."What do tourists look for when they visit any town or village? They want a taste of local culture, including Irish traditional music. Very often such provision is not available.
"I was quite shocked when senior Arts Council officals informed me during a recent committee meeting that the Arts Council has never formally engaged with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (CCE) but has only dealt with the leading promoters of Irish Traditional Music north and south of the island of Ireland at arms length and through 'Awards for All' funding."There is a vibrant traditional arts scene, largely down to the voluntary efforts such as Comhaltas, but it needs strategic direction, leadership and support from the Arts Council. We only have to look at the massive benefits that a vibrant traditional arts scene which is properly supported can deliver. Dublins Temple Bar Tradfest is growing exponentially, Ennis' Fleadh Nua fills the town each year with thousands of people and the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann are all festivals which bring huge prestige and economic benefits to the areas that they are located in.

"All of these festivals are a car drive away. Neither Belfast , nor indeed any other town in the north, can rival this scale of festival so far. The question has to be asked why?

"The growing traditional arts sector needs nourished and supported. We have festivals such as Féile an Earraigh , Celtic Fusion, Fleadhanna and Féiseanna that must be encouraged and resourced. There needs to be a dedicated full time Traditional Arts officer at the Arts Council. To have anything less would be doing a disservice to one of the most popular art forms in Ireland, including the north."

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