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Government must recognise contribution of local community arts projects - McLellan

12 October, 2011

Sinn Féin's spokesperson on the arts, Sandra McLellan, has called on the government to recognise the immense contribution that local community arts projects make to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across the state and labelled the continuing assault on funding for such schemes “shocking”.

Speaking in the Dáil on Sinn Féin's motion supporting the community and voluntary sector, Deputy McLellan said:

“Policy makers, arts practitioners and researchers have long suggested that participation in arts activity can result in a broad range of positive effects. These range from increased self-confidence to increased educational attainment, from social cohesion to reduced offending behaviour. Some of the benefits derived from the arts, such as increased self-esteem and mental wellbeing, are primarily personal or individual benefits, while others, such as developing community identity, occur at a community level.

“We are minded of some ground breaking arts projects which have broken down barriers and been vehicles for understanding and absolute transformation, for example, Féile an Phobail in Belfast, Music for the Mind in my home county of Cork, or RTÉ’s popular Music Changes Lives programme which documented how the simple act of learning to play a musical instrument changed the lives of a group of young children. Similar projects are happening in communities right across the state, yet this Government is determined to cut them out of existence.

She concluded:

“In times of crisis the services these groups provide are in even greater demand. They deserve recognition. They deserve appropriate support and encouragement. That the government intends to continue its assault on them is a shocking reflection on their idea of what counts for a society.”

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