He did the arts some service


Having missed it the first time around, the rebroadcast on Tuesday of the RTE Arts Lives programme on Charles Haughey (‘Patronising the arts’– no pun intended, I think) was a fascinating look at his influence on state patronage of the arts from the 1960s onwards. It offered a nuanced look at his personal and political interests in promoting the visual arts– which artforms benefited and which lost out, the creation and effect of the artists’ tax exemption, and the establishment of Aosdana– all of which give a rich context to the the current status of state arts support (see an older review of it here).

In the end I think a mixed result emerged– probably apropos given the complex figure of Haughey–but possibly the best bit came as the credits rolled, when various culture pundits reacted to the tongue-in-cheek equestrian portrait of Haughey by Edward McGuire… that single work seemed to sum up much about both the man and the myth!