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Galway's Arts' Consultation Process Hijacked

category galway | arts and media | news report author Tuesday August 25, 2009 16:04author by Fred Johnston Report this post to the editors

City Arts Strategy doesn't include Artists!

Development of a new Arts Strategy for Galway City has not included consultation with the City or County's artists, but has has been closely guarded at City hall

It's coming up on two years since public consultation on the development of an Arts Strategy for Galway was promised. In spite of various declarations that such PUBLIC meetings would take place, given by James Harrold, City Arts Officer, no such public consultation ever took place nor, it appears, will ever take place, though the lip-service continues.

Sarah Searson, a one-time arts officer in Dublin, has been appointed to aid the work of any Arts Strategy and it was hoped by some arts bodies and cultural committees that meetings with Ms Searson might be facilitated and their various points of view put forward. But this looks unlikely to happen as the Strategy is safely vacuum-packed at City Hall.

The arts in Galway are in a disordered and fractured state, with arguments over everything from funding to content raging from The Galway Arts Festival to Macnas and the Western Writers' Centre, who were so disturbed by the blatant opposition of the City Arts Office that they refused to apply for grant-aid this year.

It would seem clear that, before anyone in the arts community has been able to put forward a single suggestion, the City Council have made sure that their spoke was jammed firmly into any strategy arrangements.

Meanwhile, a rather paltry advertisement has been posted in some local newspapers inviting arts' groups to comment on the Strategy website - a scandalously poor substitute for real discussion which borders on insulting every arts' group and arts' practitioner in the city. One of the central problems, a sort of cultural elephant in the room, is that Galway City Council tend to dodge any discussion of the role of the Arts Office in mapping the cultural face of the city. Public comment goes unacknowledged or is not acted upon. There is a real sense that the Council are a law unto themselves and do not welcome being pushed to move things along culturally.

One awaits the outcome of this non-consultative consultation process. The Arts Council, perhaps, should take serious note of what is happening, given their penchant for labelling as divisive any individual or group who criticises the arts in Galway city.

author by Galway Independentpublication date Tue Aug 25, 2009 16:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Here is a recent letter Fred Johnston published in The Galway Advertiser
http://www.advertiser.ie/galway/article/15136

He used another letter which had been published the previous week as the basis for his attack on the arts generally in Galway
http://www.advertiser.ie/galway/article/14924

As it turned out, read this letter at the link below which appeared the following week, and it becomes clear that there was no issue at all, but that Johnston jumped in to attack the Arts Festival without knowing the full facts. http://www.advertiser.ie/galway/article/15471

He should now apologise to Galway Arts Festival in the same letters pages of The Galway Advertiser.

If he does not, then not a word he says should be believed.

author by Fred Johnstonpublication date Tue Aug 25, 2009 17:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

That didn't take long! Is this the same joker who sent, anonymously, a whole bunch of my published letters to The Arts Council before Christmas in the hope they'd remove our funding? One can't help noticing that, while attempting to ingratiate themselves in defence of City Hall here, 'Galway Independent,' (who clearly isn't very) has become a raving obsessive, stalking me through the columns of this site.

'Galway Independent' might recall that a solicitor's letter has already been issued by me in Galway to those who thought that it would be a good idea to circulate damaging and actionable correspondence.

The disturbed person engaged in collating every line I write has little thought for the image this portrays of cultural Galway and in this case, and clearly has nothing constructive to say. I suspect 'Galway Independent' keeps photos of me in his/her room. I dread to think what they do with them.

So now I ask 'Galway Independent' (who uses the name of a Galway newspaper, so original is their thought) to provide solutions for the democratic engagement of artists in Galway with the Arts Strategy. Perhaps, alternatively, someone can recommend a not-too-expensive doctor.

author by Fred Johnstonpublication date Tue Aug 25, 2009 20:19author email fred.johnston at rocketmail dot comauthor address author phone 087.2178138Report this post to the editors

"Development of a new Arts Strategy for Galway City has not included consultation with the City or County's artists . . . "

Tell you what, numb-nuts: above is the original point of the posting. This has been common knowledge to people in the arts' world of Galway while you've been off being good. Now below is my number and e-mail. If you are allowed out at this time of night, call me; or find a cyber-café. Will you have the courage to c ontact me? Of course not. But there you have it. Otherwise stick to the question at hand and stop trolling like a child.

You can always write to a local Galway paper and give out but that means having to put your name and address at least in the paper's office and I know how much you hate that. So stick to the point of the discussion or go away. It's bed-time for you anyway.

author by Verapublication date Wed Aug 26, 2009 01:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Glad I don't live in a place as vindictive as Galway! I hope the Arts Council takes note at any rate of the lack of discussion and consultation around the proposed Arts strategy plan as the arts are supposed to be as democratic and transparent as anything else. No decision should be taken on arts plans at the City Council until writers, painters, actors and the rest have sat down with Sarah Searson, that's obvious. Her view should be independent of the views of City council.

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