The April Aosdána General Assembly will be a special occasion for its members as it is the first to be held following the passing of its founder and guiding spirit, Anthony Cronin. But apart from that, the main focus as usual will be on the election of new members for which there are six vacancies this year. Although visual artists comprise over 40 per cent of the membership, no visual artists for the four vacancies in 2016 were elected and three of these contenders have decided not to go forward again. They are Rita Duffy, Mary Kelly and Abigail O’Brien. However five others who failed to make it last year are going forward at the April meeting namely Eddie Kennedy, Stephen Lawlor, Niamh O’Malley, Isobel Nolan and Anne Tallentire. In addition to these, three new names Shane Cullen, Trish McAdam and Tim O’Neill are going forward under the Visual Arts category for the first time making a total of eight from this category. Overall there are seventeen nominations among the five categories of Visual Arts, Literature, Music, Architecture and Choreography for the six vacancies.
As can be seen, there is no Film category as such for members but fortunately George Morrison was admitted to Aosdána many years ago and his elevation to the role of Saoi is due to be announced early in March. He will thus join the Torc-bearing ranks that include Seoirse Bodley, Edna O’Brien, Camille Souter and Imogen Stuart while still leaving vacancies for two more Saoi to be elected. If either of these are drawn from the Visual Arts side, then surely Patrick Pye, (ten of whose works are included in IMMA’s ‘100 years of Art and Spirituality’ exhibition in March) or Stephen McKenna, must be in serious contention.
no visual artists for the four vacancies in 2016 were elected
As the average age of Aosdána’s membership has been increasing down the years, the availability of the Cnuas support has become increasingly relevant. Aproximately 150 of the total membership, or 60 per cent, now avail of the €17,180 annuity. Importantly, all Aosdána members are also eligible to join the artists’ pension scheme if they so wish and in all cases the Arts Council pays half of the premium. In the case of Cnuas recipients, the members contribution will be deducted from the Cnuas. All Aosdána members have good reason to fondly remember Anthony Cronin – and, of course, Charles Haughey. JM