The government’s decision to allocate an extra one million euros to the Arts Council to celebrate the Centenary of the Easter Rising is certainly good news for many Irish artists as most of the money will go directly into their pockets. Half of it will go on ‘projects in any art form’ submitted by them and selected by an international jury; one quarter will go on sixteen bursaries worth €12,500 each and the final quarter is being allocated to a ‘large scale national event’ whatever that will be. The Arts Council director, Orlaith McBride, is rightly enthused by the possibilities here. ‘We are hoping for work so innovative and special that it will inspire the people of Ireland for the next hundred years’ she says.
Like every other council in the country, Dublin City Council is developing a major programme to commemorate the Easter Rising although so far there appears to be little enough that is likely to ‘inspire the people of Ireland’ or indeed ‘open the Irish imagination’. Owen Keegan, the DCC manager, plans to focus on the part played in the Rising by the elected members and staff of Dublin Corporation and it will be mounting a series of exhibitions, publishing guides and information literature and holding lectures. All very worthy, of course, but not exactly inspiring and so far there is little evidence of the involvement of much art or any artists. So here’s a suggestion for the City Fathers.
We are hoping for work so innovative and special that it will inspire the people of Ireland for the next hundred years’
Let the DCC provide, say, twenty sites in the city for the erection of street art relating to 1916. In contrast to the likes of Bristol city or Melbourne or San Francisco which have made a virtue (and a tourist attraction) out of this genre, DCC has done little to encourage this form of graphic expression from the, typically, younger generation. And why not? In a city defaced by so many derelict sites and boarded up houses, why not disguise them with something ‘imaginative’ and ‘innovative’ to commemorate the young men who gave their lives for this country a century ago? But more to the point, why not enthusiastically invite the reactions of today’s youth to the events of 1916 in the graphic language that is so much a part of their own form of communication today? JM