Friday 20 September 2019

No Arts Council funding for Bui Bolg next year

Colm Lowney.
Colm Lowney.


Wexford street theatre company Buí Bolg is 'disappointed but not surprised' by a decision of the Arts Council of Ireland not to award it any funding for 2017.

The withdrawal of funding to the company comes as Wexford Festival Opera is set to receive €1.44 million next year and Wexford Arts Centre €150,000, a marginal increase on last year's funding levels in both cases.

Buí Bolg which received €70,000 from the Arts Council in 2012, has been on a sliding scale of financial support since 2013 when it was initially given nothing and eventually awarded €66,500 as a once-off payment.

The leading street spectacle outfit received €45,000 in 2014 and then that was reduced to €15,000 last year.

'I am disappointed but not surprised,' said Acting Artistic Director and founder Colm Lowney. 'Last year's allocation was the equivalent of no grant. In our application, that was the cost of running the youth group.' Colm said Bui Bolg was advised by the Arts Council to look at some of its other funding streams apart from annual funding but last year it applied to the Project Fund and Making Great Art Scheme and was unsuccessful.

He said the company has been expanding its commercial activities in response to a reduction in State funding while also continuing with community projects such as the St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin, the Jest Fest in Wexford and other events which make up about half its annual income. The rest comes from the commercial sector. The Youth Group is also continuing.

'In the last three or four years, we've had to hone in on commercial work to make up for the lack of Arts Council funding and we are very successful that that,' he said.

'In essence, what the Arts Council has been saying to us is that their funding focus is on professional performance and on organisations with strong links to the community whereas a lot of our work is based on installations and the element of spectacle rather than performance,' he said.

For the first time in many years, Bui Bolg will be staging a full show for the St. Patrick's Day Parade next March in its home town of Wexford which, as the oldest parade in the country is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2017. This will be in addition to spectacles for St. Patrick's Day in Dublin, Dundalk and Cork and assistance with the parade in Waterford.

In awarding €1.44 million to Wexford Festival Opera, up from €1.42 million in 2016, the Arts Council described the event as 'internationally significant' and said 'we fund it because it is a festival providing high-quality opera productions of rare/niche operatic repertoire for Irish audiences and audiences from abroad, all in a vibrant international festival setting of considerable regional importance'.

Wexford Arts Centre is being funded to the tune of €150,000 in 2017 under the 'Multidisciplinary Arts' category. The Arts Council said it will receive funding because it is an arts resource in County Wexford with a programme of touring work an in-house visual arts programme, art classes for the community and collaborations with other organisations. Founded in 1974, it is a 122 seat venue with gallery spaces, cafe and workshops.

Arts Centre executive director Elizabeth Whyte said the 2017 allocation represents a €5,000 increase on last year and 26% of the centre's current budget.

'Though the funding has not been fully restored to pre-recession cutback levels, the small increase represents recognition to enhance support where possible which is vital to the ongoing delivery of the centre's arts programme in the county.'

Wexford People

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