Arts budget slashed for 2012

Westmeath County Council’s arts budget has been slashed by more than 20 per cent in a bid to manage scarce resources.

The budget for the Arts Development Plan is down almost €33,000 this year, or 21.5 per cent on 2011 it was revealed at the 2012 budget meeting.

The Dean Crowe Theatre will see its subvention cut from €25,000 to €20,000 and Tuar Ard in Moate will lose a third of its grant, taking it from €15,000 to €10,000.

This was a particular disappointment to Cllr Tom Allen, who said the Moate venue provides a great service to local groups and that it was a pity that its income had to be pruned back so severely.

A council colleague declared the cuts between the three venues as unfair, and clearly not pro-rata, but county manager Danny McLoughlin said the varying cuts were simply indicative of the “swings and roundabouts” of the funding programme.

However, funding at Mullingar Arts Centre is to be maintained at €120,000, a fact which caused some councillors to raise their eyebrows.

Cllr Mick Dollard said the arts were never needed as much, as people need a diversion and a boost to their mood during the recession.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Allen said Moate is a great little town and it’s great to have the theatre there.

He complimented those who work so hard in the arts centre which he said is beautiful and well run, the kind of venture the council should be supporting.

But he said it’s a sign of the times that the finances are not there.

“We have to be fair and work to suit our pocket, and we have a very good manager and a very good team,” he said, but added that he intends to meet with staff to see if there’s something that can be done to support the centre which is so well supported by the public and local drama groups.


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