Mayo county councillors have expressed the need to support arts in the county during a meeting of the cultural, education, heritage and corporate Affairs SPC meeting on Wednesday.
Representatives from Linenhall Arts Centre gave an insightful presentation to the SPC this week where it was outlined that funding from the Arts Council and Castlebar Town Council has been reduced.
The centre, which is located on Linenhall Street, Castlebar and which has an ongoing and vibrant arts scene, employs 12 staff — eight on a part time basis and four on a full time basis. The centre has an annual budget of €300,000, which is funded by the Arts Council, Mayo County Council, Castlebar Town Council, alongside takings from the box office, subscriptions, and the coffee shop.
Over the past few years funding from Mayo County Council has remained the same at €35,000, while there has been a reduction in financial support from Castlebar Town Council and the Arts Council.
County secretary John Condon said that €300,000 has been given to the centre in the past 10 to 12 years and even though in the past two years Mayo County Council’s arts spend has been reduced by €123,000, that there had been no reduction in financial support given to the Linenhall. Mr Condon said that the Arts Council reduction has been “kinder” to the Linenhall in comparison to financial cuts to Westport and Ballina arts centres.
The county secretary said that he was “pretty certain” that there will be further cuts to arts spending in the county next year but “we will do our best, but the best is going to be limited.”
Chair of the SPC, Councillor Al McDonnell, said that it is important to support the arts the county and he hoped that Mayo County Council has “an ongoing commitment” to the arts.
Cllr Eugene McCormack recommended that the local authority is behind the Linenhall in supporting its stance against cuts from the Arts Council. Cllr Joe Mellett also gave his full support to the continuation of Mayo County Council funding and he asked that a formal proposal to the Arts Council be worded which should be placed on the agenda for a future date.