Artists know the importance of symbols. In myriad forms they convey many messages. The symbolism of President Michael D. Higgins placing the arts and culture at the centre of his presidency is powerful. He is saying to every artist that the work they engage in is immensely important to the life of our nation. As President he affords a visible platform not only for individual artists but for the value of the arts. The arts are intrinsic to a life well lived and it is the right of every citizen in a republic to have access to such experiences.
Glaoch – The President’s Call, broadcast on St Patrick’s night was not only entertaining and engaging it was a powerful symbol of what is important. This showcase with emerging as well as established artists is part of the deeper exchange the President has initiated with artists. Speaking to UNESCO in Paris in February he made a point relevant to our times: “if one loses ones capacity as a consuming unit in an economy, it should never be the case that you lost your cultural rights to participate in the wider society”.
The arts are all openings for engagement and participation. A key initiative developed by Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltachts with the Minister for Education and Skills has been the Arts in Education Charter. Now that Philanthropy Initiative is being supported by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltachts Philanthropy Initiative. For 2013 initial funds under this Initiative will be directed towards arts-in-education projects. Another demonstration of practical steps being taken to ensure the cultural rights of our children.
Reaching audiences requires skill as well as inspirational ideas. Arts Audiences is again inviting applications for the third annual Google training day for arts organizations. The day will aim to equip organisations with the basics of the Google tools.
So from UNESCO to Áras an Uachtaráin, from developing the arts in schools to providing arts organisations with IT skills the work goes on. As President Higgins reminds us, it goes on for a great purpose.