Despite Galway’s bid to become an UNESCO City of Film, the Galway City Council has slashed almost €4,000 from grants to local film organisations, a move which has been described as “outrageous”.
The cuts - among the largest of the 23 decreases in funding announced at Monday’s city council meeting during a presentation on the 2014 Arts Grants - will see the Galway Film Fleadh’s budget slashed by €2,000, down to €14,000 this year, as opposed to €16,000 in 2013. The Galway Film Society’s funding was reduced by €1,000, while The Galway Film Centre saw its grant slashed by €750 for this year.
Miriam Allen, the managing director of the Galway Film Fleadh, has described the cuts as “outrageous” and has alleged that she was informed by City Hall prior to Monday’s council meeting that the level of funding for the fleadh would not be cut.
“Any cut, regardless of size, impacts on the festival,” Ms Allen told the Galway Advertiser. “We also have taken a cut in funding from the Arts Council. It all adds up at the end of the day and it will absolutely affect the festival.”
The Galway Film Fleadh was the only one of the city’s flagship festivals to endure such a setback. The Galway Arts Festival (€46,000 ), Druid Theatre Company (€28,000 ), Macnas (€24,000 ), and the Cúirt Literary Festival (€13,000 ), all saw their funding levels maintained.
However there was some good news for film, with the Junior Galway Film Fleadh’s funding levels maintained at €1,500 and a grant of €1,000 being given to the Little Cinema Club. Ms Allen said she was “delighted to hear” that funding levels for these were retained.
The overall cuts to film though will be seen as ironic, given the Galway City Council is one of the main supporters for the UNESCO City of Film bid, for which, it is understood, Galway is a strong contender.
Ms Allen said she is “at a loss” to understand the cuts when the Galway City Council has been such a keen supporter of the UNESCO bid.
“The cuts fly in the face of what the city council has been doing,” she said. “The application for the UNESCO title contained a letter from the city manager and the Mayor, and this is something the fleadh, the film society, the film centre, and the entire audio-visual sector in Galway is working on. I just don’t understand why this cut has been made and I would be interested in know the reasons behind it.”