The Oscar-nominated director took to Twitter to discuss his issues
Since the announcement of Heather Humphreys’ ministerial brief would now be extended to include Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht, there has been a loud outcry by those working within the Irish arts department, figure-headed by the #ArtsDeptNow hashtag on Twitter.
An online petition (found here) is up to almost 11,000 of the 15,000 required signatures, with the goal being to "Give arts, culture and heritage the respect it deserves by creating an independent Department and setting a funding target of 0.6% of GDP (the EU average spend on arts/culture). Ireland has one of the lowest levels of public support in the EU."
Yesterday, Irish director Lenny Abrahamson (Frank, What Richard Did, Room) took to Twitter to express his opinions on the situation:
Irish art is a photo op for @EndaKennyTD while once in a lifetime opportunity to create a world class film and tv industry is squandered.— lenny abrahamson (@lennyabrahamson) May 18, 2016
Despite all the lip service, it's clear from lack of action that the Irish political class neither understands nor values the arts.— lenny abrahamson (@lennyabrahamson) May 18, 2016
To do list: 1. Dedicated minister at cabinet who actually cares and knows about the arts. 2. Finding to be in line with Euro average. End.— lenny abrahamson (@lennyabrahamson) May 18, 2016
His tweets didn't fall on deaf ears, with Humphrey's responding directly to the director via the social media app:
Good to get a direct message from the minister - will try to continue the dialogue when I'm home. https://t.co/WNjOlklsiv— lenny abrahamson (@lennyabrahamson) May 18, 2016
Abrahamson spoke to RTE Radio One’s Morning Ireland this morning to further discuss his opinions on the topic:
“Somebody described it as a kind of ‘Frankenstein department’. Having a dedicated department purely for Arts and Heritage is the best way of guaranteeing a strong voice for the arts at the Cabinet table. [...] When money gets tight, the arts get pushed to the back of the queue.”
“There is the potential I think to create a really world-class industry in film and television and animation. The quality is manifestly there and we have been punching above our weight internationally, but if proper and strategic investment was made, that could be grown. [...] There’s this idea the government still seem to have of the arts as some sort of optional decorative extra that you can add to when there’s a few quid swilling around and pull out when there’s not.”
“After having just had a successful year in film and television, the industry is ready to be developed and culture is what we’re well known for. [...] It’s very galling to see the work of artists used as a kind of photo opportunity by politicians who at the same time are demonstrating no sense of the value of the work that they’re praising.”