Aosdána elected committee split over Arts Council row on grants

Aosdána receives €2.7 million a year in public funding, almost all of which goes on cnuas grants. Artist Vivienne Roche, composer Jane O’Leary and writer Eilís Ní Dhuibhne resigned from the committee, the toscaireacht, over how the group of State-funded artists dealt with the Arts Council’s plans to change the payment of the cnuas grant, a €17,180 annual stipend paid to 145 of its 246 members. Ms Roche said in her March 18th letter that there was one toscaireacht meeting since Aosdána received the council’s draft discussion document in November that proposed changing the definition for those eligible for funding from “full-time practicing artist” to “working artists engaged in productive practice.” Offer of mediation She strongly felt that Aosdána should have accepted an offer of mediation with the Arts Council without prior demands, including a proposal to set aside the council’s discussion document, as a way of settling the dispute. The organisation and the Arts Council have been embroiled in a stand-off over the proposed changes. One of three members who resigned from the elected committee of Aosdána said she felt she had been unable to put forward her views on the committee about the arts body’s row with the Arts Council. Relationship had deteriorated She said that she regretted that the relationship between the toscaireacht and the Arts Council had “deteriorated to a point where even the mediation on the table is in question”. Correspondence sent by Ms FitzGerald on behalf of toscaireacht “as a majority decision but without holding a meeting to air our views and collectively weigh up the consequences of any actions” was, she said, “an improper and unproductive way to proceed.” Ms Roche declined to comment on her letter yesterday. The council’s plans have stirred controversy in the arts world and divided opinion on the organisation’s representative committee. In her resignation letter to the committee’s chairwoman Mary FitzGerald, Ms Roche was critical that meetings had not been held on the issue and that she had been “unable to put forward my apparently minority views in the proper forum of toscaireacht meetings, where decisions are also recorded”. She argued in a “dissent” document that informed and face-to-face meetings with the Arts Council were “by far the more preferable opening gambit rather than starting with an all-out confrontation”.

Body & Soul: Great music and talk at a friendly festival devastated by a death

Body & Soul: the Wonderlust stage hosted Irish Times talks. The newly expanded Food on Board area, across a small stone bridge and down some grassy laneways, was a colourful garden ringed by food stalls and a Veuve Clicquot champagne bar – a luxury refuge from the wider, wilder festival. It was a hoot from start to finish. Pick of the musical bunch on Saturday was Bonobo’s stunning set on the Body & Soul stage. You could spend the weekend at Body & Soul and easily miss one of its best bits. The journalist Emer McLysaght and the DJ Sally Cinnamon unloaded both barrels on a range of topics, from the Rose of Tralee to country’n’Irish music, while the comedian Alison Spittle took the opportunity to brilliantly grind some axes she’s been clinging to since childhood. Walking into Body & Soul on the second of its three days, the festival felt better organised and more detailed. The band slipped into it almost unnoticed midset before unleashing its full payload to thrilling effect. On Saturday night there was a masked ball that plenty of people rocked up to in veils, masks, top hats and tails – and hardly a cheek in the place hadn’t been smeared in glitter. Photograph: Debbie Hickey/Getty The Irish Times Women’s Podcast kicked things off with a powerful panel discussion on shame, and how it has been used against women. The entire festival seemed to have lined the hills to hear Simon Green and his band, and his pristine electro tunes were lent live warmth and groove by a brass and flute section. News was slow to filter out to festivalgoers. The team at Body & Soul are absolutely devastated by the news.” It was the first death in the eight years of the festival. So Saturday’s incident, when a man died after being taken to the medical tent by medical staff, came as a huge blow. Sunday afternoon saw more bright sunshine break the clouds, with some showers forecast for the evening. Crew and staff were warm and helpful; queues for facilities were nonexistent or manageable; hardly a corner of the festival hadn’t been decorated, accented or lit; and the crowd of 15,000 seemed a natural fit for the size of the site at Ballinlough Castle, in Co Westmeath. After the emotional fireworks of Bonobo it seemed more aloof, but this was a very finely marbled …