4.2.1 Conceptual issues of policies for the arts
See chapter 4.1 for a discussion on current priorities. The debate centres on funding. The effects of the cuts have been widespread. Not only have the flagship projects (expansion of the National Concert Hall or the establishment of a new all-Ireland opera company), been shelved, many arts organisations have disappeared or had to curtail the programmes / performances / activities. The national cultural institutions are struggling to maintain services in the face of staffing and grant cuts. Attempts to engage philanthropy in the funding of the arts, despite the urging of government to look in this direction, are hampered by an inadequate legislative framework for same. (As matters stand it is not clear if any private funding raised by the national cultural institutions would not be perceived and treated by government as a substitute for state funding.) Furthermore, the hostility towards the public sector and the public domain, now widespread in Ireland, coupled with the punishing experience of NGOs who expressed a critical viewpoint, has exacerbated the crisis for many arts bodies and has inhibited a public airing of the effects of cuts – to the extent that the rapid degradation of the sector is notably discreet.