Ireland wins but the Arts still bottom of the League


The people in the Dáil were all very friendly, I mean the staff who work there, the porters, the security staff – in fact, everyone we met inside – except for one (but perhaps he was just anxious about the Ireland/Italy match). We were there to hear the debate on a Fianna Fáil motion about the Arts in Ireland and we filled the public gallery to capacity!

A slightly surreal experience. We packed into the gallery above the Dáil chamber. We waited for the TDs to make their speeches about the “Importance of the Arts”. We’d heard it all before, to tell the truth. We agreed with nearly everything that was said – how the Arts feed our souls, stimulate our minds and lift our spirits; how the Arts define us as human beings; how our culture is what binds us together as a nation… there was a spontaneous clap for one deputy (but then we were gently reprimanded by the security staff: “I’m sorry, no clapping allowed here”). All very respectful. As you can see above, there was glass between us and the TDs – impossible to throw rotten fruit, if one felt so inclined…

Outside Leinster House (PS not many people know this but those metal gates were created by my ancestors J&C McGloughlin)
Outside the Dáil yesterday (most people were gone to watch the match)

Anyway, we heard that the government was not going to oppose the motion. So that was it – just a lot of talk. Of course, you know that Ireland’s state funding of the Arts is just one fifth of the European average. Some TDs were asking that it be brought up to European levels… but actually, if what was being said about the unique quality and importance of the Arts in Ireland is true – shouldn’t our state funding be even higher than the European average?

In my humble opinion, the Office of Public Works (OPW) plays a significant role in supporting artists in Ireland (by buying art for the state buildings). More significant than the Arts Council, I would say.  So here’s an idea – double their budget and allow them to buy more art. Not complicated.

Your comments please 🙂  thank you.

See the link for The National Campaign for the Arts below

See also –

Visual Artists Ireland (VAI)

PS:  not many people know this but those metal gates outside Leinster House were created by my ancestors J&C McGloughlin







  1. Eoin, is it true that artists get a big tax break in Ireland? Martin Toonder, famous writer and artist from NL moved there for that reason? If that is true, it would compensate for the lower art budgets probably. Or not? greetings, Sarah


    • Hi Sarah, artists recognised by the revenue commissioners (I’m one of them) don’t have to pay tax on the sale of their art so yes, you don’t have to sell as many paintings as you would if you were paying tax on them. (I think there’s a limit of €40,000 – ie – if you make more than that, you have to start paying tax on it) But let’s take a novelist for instance. He/she might work for a year on a book and earn nothing and then have a bumper year where she goes over the limit and then the next year she is back to writing and earning nothing for another few years… As for me, I haven’t got anywhere near the limit of earnings so it never came up… of course, all of the above relates to artists who would be producing ‘products’ to sell but it doesn’t really relate to those who create installations or videos etc or work in community art… The Arts Council gives out some grants for artistic projects but they are few and far between… that’s what the campaign was about. If you were a little theatre company or a dance troupe, how do you survive without state support? So there’s some thoughts about it Sarah, I must say that I’m not actively involved in the campaign but I thought it was important to ‘make our presence felt’ All the best and bye for now, eoin


  2. What is the best way for the state to support the arts? I would suggest that it is by providing artists of all types with a Basic Income. Artists are generally not available for employment so they cannot get Job Seeker’s Allowance but if they had a basic income, it would at least give them the freedom to be creative without having to be constantly worrying about financial survival. This way the state would be contributing to the lives of all artists rather than funding organisations who can select where the money goes. A basic income would not make anybody rich but it could help those creative people to survive.


  3. To echo Fionnuala’s comment, people involved in the arts are about enriching society not necessarily getting rich. As well as artists many other professions enrich society – carers, voluntary workers all contribute to holding the fabric together. I know there have been Basic minimum income pilot schemes tried in Canada, and some other countries are toying with the idea of introducing it.
    At a very basic level of economics (that’s all I can manage): if citizens have a basic income, what will they do with that income? – spend it of course, as they will use it to live on. This by extension will feed directly into invigorating the local economy. This is the opposite of the trickle down economics flaunted by Neo-liberals of ‘all boats rising together on the tide’ of prosperity…


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