Weekly round-up: 4 February 2011

Blowin’ in the wind this week:

  • As seen in the last post, the Dublin Contemporary‘s appointed 2 new curators; its site has just come back online again as of today, with further details of its theme and what the heck they mean by ‘The Office of Non-Compliance’, whose explanation still sounds a bit Cheneyesque to me.
  • The director job for the National Concert Hall was featured in The Irish Times today.
  • Many were dismayed this week (not least the staff) to hear of the closure of Waterstone’s Dublin branches. I can only hope great indies like the Gutter Bookshop, Winding Stair and The Company of Books continue to thrive.
  • The new Google Art Project has been wowing everyone in these parts– more fun than ArtStor, but can the Irish museums play too? Pretty please??
  • The Model: Sligo has a great new Jack Yeats exhibition ‘The Outsider’ on show, and a talk tomorrow (5 Feb) with Brian O’Doherty and Hilary Pyle that I wish I could attend!
  • Business to Arts has published a useful evaluation of its own ‘New Stream’ project, aimed at improving development skills in the arts sector through a series of workshops and professional development activities. Our own Pat Cooke provides some of the feedback on the programme.
  • Arts Audiences has launched details of two audience development schemes: Building Your Audience focuses on cultural tourism and assisting arts organisations with attracting domestic and international visitors (in partnership with Failte Ireland), while Media Mentoring offers the opportunity to match orgs with a mentor from Google who will provide advice and guidance on using new media to best advantage. Both schemes are currently open for application by organisations large & small!
  • The Moderns has continued to attract high visitor numbers (though some mixed reviews) but an announcement that the catalogue will be AGAIN delayed until March (when a significant part of the exhibition will be closed) was deeply disappointing (and frustrating for those of us hoping to use the exhibition for teaching purposes!)
  • Alain de Botton’s provocatively titled missive ‘Why are museums so uninspiring?’ set off lots of debate & discussion in the blogosphere; personally I think Charlotte Higgins from the Guardian had the most spot-on response (and interesting comments, too).
  • In the US, NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman sparked more debate over his comments that suggest American theatre was in a state of oversupply and under-demand, and should be adjusted accordingly.
  • The Observer on Sunday had an interesting piece on the death of the critic in the face of social media, but it still sounds like the funeral may be premature.

Weekly round-up: 26 January 2011

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?)

Irish Book Publishers’ Conference

cleThe Irish Book Publisher’s Association is having their biennial conference on the 21st of February, this year entitled ‘The Burning Issues’.

Lots of interesting sessions planned on managing small presses, negotiating with booksellers, and identifying new markets…

For details see their flier (MS doc file), or alternatively consult their full programme (pdf).

Happy Poetry Day

Today is All-Ireland Poetry Day! Events are happening all round the country to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Poetry Ireland.

In Dublin there will be a poetry reading at 6.30 pm tonight at the Unitarian Church, 112 St Stephen’s Green West, by John F. Deane, Rutger Kopland and Fiona Sampson. Full details of events nationwide can be found on Poetry Ireland’s website

In honour of the day, a favourite poem recently discovered:

Wisława Szymborska: ‘Slapstick’ (1993)

If there are angels,
I doubt they read
our novels
concerning thwarted hopes.

I’m afraid, alas,
they never touch the poems
that bear our grudges against the world.

The rantings and railings
of our plays
must drive them, I suspect,
to distraction.

Off-duty, between angelic –
i.e. inhuman – occupations,
they watch instead
our slapstick
from the age of silent film.

To our dirge wailers,
garment renders,
and teeth gnashers,
they prefer, I suppose,
that poor devil
who grabs the drowning man by his toupee
or, starving, devours his own shoelaces
with gusto.

From the waist up, starch and aspirations;
below, a startled mouse
runs down his trousers.
I’m sure
that’s what they call real entertainment.

A crazy chase in circles
ends up pursuing the pursuer.
The light at the end of the tunnel
turns out to be a tiger’s eye.
A hundred disasters
mean a hundred cosmic somersaults
turned over a hundred abysses.

If there are angels,
they must, I hope,
find this convincing,
this merriment dangling from terror,
not even crying Save me Save me
since all of this takes place in silence.

I can even imagine
that they clap their wings
and tears run from their eyes
from laughter, if nothing else.