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We need a serious discussion about how Ireland values arts

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Olwen Dawe.

BY OLWEN DAWE

In the wake of the recent Cabinet announcements, and more specifically, the creation of a department for Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht – it’s fair to say that a sense of ennui, or more accurately, abject dismay, has enveloped the arts community.

Seeing the narrative illuminate Twitter and other social media platforms since that announcement was made, simply highlights the palpable frustration felt by so many arts and creative-sector professionals whose livelihood is more-or-less being demoted by the continual erosion of arts funding and policy since austerity measures began.

Ireland currently boasts a place at the bottom of the European League for Government Investment in Culture and the Arts –  the Council of Europe data shows that in 2012 Ireland spent just 0.11% of GDP on the arts and culture, compared to a European average of 0.6% of GDP. Continual funding cuts and a low priority ranking in terms of policy placing, means artists, producers and organisations are continually under pressure.

Having grown up around the arts, I can’t imagine new theatre, music, performance, literature or access to our cultural institutions being revoked or reduced by funding cuts. However, the reality is that this threat is very real – and in certain instances, forcing individual organisations to operate on scarce or hugely reduced resources.

The long-debated conundrum of big data versus great art in terms of economic evaluation (particularly in relation to funding and project support) rages on, yet there seems to be a complete lack of understanding that art and public engagement with the arts is bigger than a bunch of figures.  As a recent student of economics and policy, I can attest to all the evaluative exercises required for policy programmes – but are we really asking ourselves the right questions when it comes to understanding the true value of investment in arts and culture?

I am someone who’s very proud of the creativity in my DNA.  The reality is – this country’s very fabric is woven with great art.  It is an integral and elemental aspect of our collective DNA.  None more so illustrated than in the recent commemorations which clearly pointed to the fact that many of those so centrally involved in Easter 1916’s Rising were poets and writers.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

 

Connacht Tribune

Impossible to pigeonhole – for Jinx is one of a kind

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Jinx Lennon...authentic and original.

Groove Tube with Cian O’Connell

Whether the label is anti-folk, avant punk or urban poetry, Jinx Lennon’s songs and words are always authentic and full of ferocity. His songs might be confused for audio-visual bursts of energy – temporary meditations on class, government and the Irish experience among his topics of choice.

With so much spirit in his setlist, it is no surprise that Jinx’s live shows are renowned for their sense of community and relief. He often likens live performance to a therapy session, and this week he takes his show back to Galway for the first-time post-pandemic.

Presented by the Black Gate, Jinx plays the Galway Mechanic’s Institute this Thursday, July 7. It celebrates the release of Pet Rent – a twenty-five track stream of consciousness LP that incorporates more sampling and garage sounds than the singer-songwriter’s previous material. It is evidence of the work he managed through Covid – a period that ended up being fruitful for his writing.

“The funny thing was there was a lot of activity last year because we weren’t playing the gigs,” Jinx explains.

“There was meant to be one album and then it sort of veered off into a three-headed tiger. There was a grip of songs that suited beats and samples so that became Pet Rent. The other one I was working on was supposed to come out this year and that was more of a folk job, but now it’ll be in the new year.

“With the twenty-five songs, I find it very hard to edit myself. I was listening to them and thinking they all go together, so I knew they’d make an album. I had a lot of energy before covid, and I had the momentum of playing all the gigs. I work out what works and what doesn’t work [from the gigs].

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

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Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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Connacht Tribune

Lauded scientist Aosaf has winning formula as actor

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Scientist turned actor Aosaf Afzal

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

It almost didn’t happen. Scientist turned actor Aosaf Afzal received an email from Decadent Theatre Company earlier this year checking his availability for a show that would be staged in Galway during the Arts Festival.  Aosaf, who is based in London, read the script for From A Low And Quiet Sea, based on Donal Ryan’s novel of the same name and “really wanted to be involved”. His agent sent back a short video of Aosaf performing an extract, saying the actor was available except for a couple of days in June when he’d be filming in England.

But Decadent’s Director, Andrew Flynn, initially misread June as July and figured Aosaf was out of the reckoning.

Fortunately, Andrew recognised his mistake on time and made swift contact.

Then, it was straight into rehearsals for Aosaf and fellow cast members Darragh O’Toole, Maeve Fitzgerald and Lorcan Cranitch, playing four people whose lives intersect at a critical moment.

Aosaf plays Farouk a Syrian doctor, who has managed to protect his wife and daughter from that country’s war. But to survive, they must flee, and cross a merciless sea for an unknown life in a faraway land. That land is home to people whose paths will converge with Aosaf’s, most notably Lumpy, Florence and John, all with their own issues.

“The script blew me away,” says Aosaf, who, in his previous career as a scientist, was awarded the British honour of MBE in 2006 for services to the community.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Artists offering unique tour of Galway

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Quay Street by Fiona Bradley.

The Artist’s Eye on Galway is a new project involving work from 46 artists from Ireland, the UK and USA, all at various stages in their careers, which offers a unique, artistic tour of the city and county.

Led by a team of local artists, and co-ordinated by Terri Kelleher, the project is being supported by independent publisher, Ballinderreen-based Hoogledorf Press, which is publishing a book of the same name, containing images of all the artworks.

The project is also being supported by Galway Artist’s Forum, a social networking resource for artists and arts events locally, explains Terri.

The paintings are included in a 144-page, hardback book that’s designed to offer a virtual tour of local landmarks and scenery. This tour begins in Galway City and travels to South Galway, before  passing through areas east of the River Corrib and continuing on to Connemara.

The publication, The Artist’s Eye on Galway, also has a large section dedicated to the participants, as well as photos and statements about them and their work.

The book and accompanying exhibition will be officially launched in the city’s Galmont Hotel this coming Monday, July 4, at 7.30pm and the artworks will be available to view in the hotel from then until Wednesday, July 6.

Artists taking part in the project include Barrie Maguire, Sarah Murphy, Joan Finnegan, Linda Kennedy, Suzanne Kearney, Michael Moore, Dubravka Drenski, Alicja Natalicz,  Belinda Fair, Neal Whelan, Bridget Ryan, Fiona Bradley, Carol Feeney, Attracta Carbery, Cathal O’Malley, Róisín Ní Ghuidhír,  and Hank Weisbecker.

A full list of participants and more information on the publication is available at www.artistseyebooks.com.

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