‘In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an inconquerable summer’.
The great novelist Mary Costello uses these words from Albert Camus as the epigraph to her novel Academy St.
These times, we cling to songs, stories, poems, paintings, in an effort to find sound and sense and meaning to help ourselves through. Albert Camus strikes an optimistic and helpful note and one with echoes of Seamus Heaney’s line from the first lockdown. But locating the ‘inconquerable summer’ within ourselves is hard. Our storehouse of emotional resources is running low and the ongoing imperative to ration our social contacts remains difficult. Some days we wake up and have to dig very deep beneath the surface of ourselves to find the energy to keep going. We are learning to top up our patience wells.
Here at the Arts Council, we’re continuing to make a range of particular supports available to sustain organisations and individual artists and arts workers at this time. We are now publishing an updated funding schedule for all of 2021 to help artists and arts organisations plan.
Given the challenging circumstances, we are experiencing exceptionally high levels of demand from individual artists, and we are committed to giving each and every application the care and attention it deserves. Because of this, the time we need to make bursary offers in some artforms will be a little longer than previous years. We appreciate you bearing with us as we make these vital decisions.
We’ve introduced an agility award for which the application window closes next Thursday, 8 April. There will be two further rounds of this award in 2021.
Many of you will know that our systems are being changed and this will help us significantly improve our service to you. Unfortunately, on occasion, when volume is particularly high, the system lets us down. Please make your application with a good deal of time in hand to allow us adjust for any last minute glitches. We want to be sure that we receive your applications safely and avoid causing undue stress. Members of our team will be delighted to answer any queries you may have about the award.
This past year has been filled with uncertainty and sadness and loneliness but it has also been replete with imagination and enormous depths of humanity and kindness. We look forward to a more rounded life with the arts at its very core. Artistic experience of all sorts will bring us together in a very powerful way and the charged excitement of that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.
Towards the end of a life overly filled with tragedy and disappointment, Mary Costello’s protagonist finds enormous consolation in books and poems. Likewise, the Irish public turn to the arts for their solace. Your brilliant work will help people find that inconquerable summer within themselves and it is our immense honour to help you make that happen.