Is This Ireland?

Putting Creativity at the centre in Ireland

Major investment in national arts and cultural centres announced

The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD, has announced details of more than €9 million in capital funding for arts and culture centres across the country.
It does sound good. I went to this public meeting last night in Cavan to hear about the plans for the new creative Ireland. The basis of it – We the Irish people and the diaspora and the ‘new Irish’ are an island of creatives. The government wants to tap into this well of abundant playing, thinking, talking, walking, singing, dancing, storytelling and musicianship. It is all true of course. John Concannon  director of the initiative, did a mighty job of getting across it’s 5 pillars plan in a few minutes at speed, obviously under time pressure. Yes it all sounds good.

I was very tired and had got the message about the meeting just the day before and  had driven over 100 miles that day. Therefore I was at my most grumpiest and  deeply cynical self. As a struggling artist living in rural West Cavan I was not jumping up with my usual enthusiasm.  More ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’ kind of attitude I am afraid to say. Because as  the two people at our table had said “any new projects have to be sustainable”. I gave the example of the overflowing dog waste bins on our beaches in Summer. Great idea but who is there to remove it and replenish resources. I am think of the Trimurti of  Hindu  cosmology > the Shiva/Vishnu/Bramha trinity.

beach scene with rocks, people and sea
Painted as a wedding gift to my niece

As everything around us is circular, the planets. The seasons. You know what I am talking about – the wedding band, symbolizing eternity. Never ending or beginning. What am I on about ? Bramha creates Vishnu maintains and Shiva Destroys. It is a creative cycle. So it is with any programme if it is to sustain itself. Which calls for lateral thinking.

Or often listening to what I going to unPC-like refer to as Mad Yokes(or folks) who think…
                                                                       outside of the box
Three Hindu Gods
Brahma Vishnu Shiva


Thus why is listening so important? At last night’s gig our table totally missed the question (what did our group like about the creative Ireland programme?) even after it had been brought to our attention. I guess for fear of not doing the right thing. This is exactly what got us into the pickle in the first place. I am thinking of kids in schools who are  reprimanded with ” No, No no,You can’t paint that sky green???”

“But why not Miss?”

Mr Concannon had illustrated that in the future the difference between robots (automation) and humans will be creativity.  Actually there are many more differences and more important ones such as …..we are alive, we have hearts, we can be hurt, we feel love, we procreate, hate, hold grudges, joy and a host of emotions. Perhaps he was looking at it from the productive angle. Fair enough.

I like this bit though

  The plan for the next 12 months includes a pilot scheme to help self-employed artists who applied for Job Seekers Allowance and a new annual cultural day to be held on Easter Monday.

After the fiasco of last years creative project this is indeed music to my ears. I am an artist and a horticulturist both. I want to marry the two. Our present social welfare system is fine but to me humiliating and disabling. It is what appears to me to be  totally inflexible and  bent on streamlining . Personally, I need to rebuild confidence and get the will to find my niche again while the system tries to enforce me to wear size shoes too small for me, (or maybe too big), and sees  me  as square while I am  fairly round (in more ways than one). I hope it doesn’t continue for too long. I just watched I Daniel Blake   very moving indeed. Again was anyone listening? it’s (I )Daniel Blake. Very well made indeed by Ken Loach.  I avoided watching this film for a while because I just knew it would make me so angry. Touching that hot issue of automation vs humanity. This is why any attempt to address  the issue of creativity has to be endorsed. I  just have to watch out that my personal cynicism doesn’t get in the way.

This is Ireland

To end on a good note. This video came to me on Twitter a couple of months back and I found myself close to tears. It is good. Very good. I would like to believe in this energy, this fresh smooth oxygenated breeze that is blowing over the country, removing all the stale air and resentment and poverty, old outdated ridged thinking, leaving us with  a palate of colours in which to paint our 40 shades into a magnificently embroidered quilt. Let them paint the sky purple, pink . maroon, might be a nice slogan  in there…
We are far more than the sum of our parts

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