On Wednesday 10 February Theatre Forum, the representative body for the performing arts in Ireland, held a meeting in the National Concert Hall to discuss the severe cut backs in funding recently announced by the Arts Council.
Over 120 arts organisations from across the country were represented at the packed meeting.
Mary Cloake, Director of the Arts Council, was invited to address a number of issues raised by the sector in the aftermath of the cuts.
In December, the Arts Council received a €9 million reduction in funding from the Government. More than 300 organisations subsequently had their grant cut, some by up to 65%. A further 30 had their funding cut all together.
Theatre Forum acknowledges that, whilst in the current difficult economic climate and reduced public spending, the arts will inevitably be affected, the severity of the cuts took many by surprise.
In the run up to the meeting, there was confusion in the sector regarding the rationale behind the cuts. Mary Cloake sought to address this and other concerns and was urged by many speakers to publish the official Arts Council theatre policy as a matter of urgency, and to bring forward deadlines for proposed alternative production funding schemes.
Theatre Forum chairman Fergal McGrath urged members of Theatre Forum and the Arts Council to work together to protect the performing arts for the benefit of Irish audiences - and the economy.
The meeting concluded with a renewed commitment to the National Campaign for the Arts.
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