Saturday’s Artscape – Gallery amalgamation & Irish Writers’ Centre

Just wanted to tip folks over to Saturday’s installment of Artscape by Deirdre Falvey in the Irish Times– some interesting bits on the subject of the proposed merger of national visual art institutions (Crawford, IMMA and NGI):

One of the intriguing things about the proposed amalgamation of the National Gallery, Imma and the Crawford is how the Minister is increasingly distancing himself from it.

He launched Imma’s 2009 programme on Wednesday, and the question on everyone’s lips was whether he would mention the plan. It had been first mooted in the Budget in October, but it doesn’t make financial sense and has been almost universally pooh-poohed as unworkable.

Imma chairman Eoin McGonigal got his spoke in first to set out the board’s take on the “proposal”, saying how “some, hopefully misplaced, element of uncertainty now hovers on our horizon”. He continued: “We have done our best to engage constructively in the discussions . . . especially with regard to improved efficiencies and possible shared services. The museum, however, is not in favour of an all-out amalgamation.”

He welcomed the Minister’s “assurances that the process can only be undertaken on the basis that it enhances each organisation’s ability to function, and that it maintains the unique identity and philosophy of each institution”.

[read on]

and an update on the status of the forlorn Irish Writers’ Centre:

The saga of the Irish Writers’ Centre continues. Last week its appeal against the decision by the Arts Council to withdraw funding of €200,000 was rejected. Two members of staff (communications manager and accounting/finance officer) have been out of work since February 1st and director Cathal McCabe left on February 28th. The caretaker is in place and the writing classes continue until mid-April. At the moment, aside from the caretaker, the board is running the centre, and chairman Carlo Gébler says it is attempting to raise funds to continue trading – the plan is to run more courses, which would raise some income. There’s a caretaker and cleaner, and a bookkeeping and timesheet system, so things tick over. But in terms of the centre being “a place where there are people, where writers can ring up” for advice, it is not functioning.

[read on]

I’m particularly interested in the amalgamation plans, which struck me as harebrained when they first surfaced, and I remain to be convinced, given the very different nature, scale and programming of these institutions– how could such a thing ever be designed, let alone implemented? It still sounds to me like another way of stripping these institutions of staff when they already run on skeleton crews…

(and just as an aside, Lynn Truss style– the use of lowercase letters in IMMA’s acronym drives me bonkers, although the IT (It?) does it all the time. Am I the only one?)

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