Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Niamh Smyth has called for assurances from Minister Heather Humphreys that the Arts will not be pushed to the side in her newly expanded Department. What was formally the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has now been increased to include regional development and rural affairs, and now also has responsibility for the rollout of rural broadband and development of post office network.
Deputy Smyth commented, “While I understand the need for a dedicated Government Department for Regional Development and Rural Affairs, I am extremely concerned that these important issues have been added to an already extensive portfolio, and I am fearful that the Arts element of the department may be left behind.
“A vibrant arts and cultural scene is at the heart of a good life and strong vibrant community. Despite being a small country, our strong tradition of literature, music, theatre, film and dance has placed us on the global stage, copper-fastening Ireland’s influence on the arts across the world. It is therefore essential that the arts community here at home is given the funding, support and recognition that it needs. As part of the Fianna Fáil manifesto, the party pledged to increase Arts Council funding by €10m annually as well as a €5m annual funding boost for the Heritage Council.
“Improving the links between Education and the Arts must be central to Government policy on the Arts. We need to build on the Arts in Education Charter and ensure that arts provision is enhanced across the education sector, beginning at primary level. There needs to be greater co-operation between the Department of Arts, Department of Education and the Arts Council so that funding for projects can be secured so that they can be rolled out effectively.
“The move to integrate the Department for Regional Development and Rural Affairs into the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is a worrying one for everyone in the arts community and I am urging Minister Humphreys to ensure that this important sector will remain a priority for her and her officials during the term of the new Government”.