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Funding issues facing Black Irish artists highlighted


A report into why Black and Black Irish artists have higher rates of ineligible applications for Arts Council funding has recommended enhanced transparency, new mechanisms to monitor discriminatory outcomes and strategies to address under-representation.

The research was commissioned after data highlighted disparities in success rates among different ethnic groups, with Black males being the least successful applicants.

Of the ineligible applications submitted by Black and Black Irish artists, 71% were missing materials required for applications to be assessed.

Arts Council Director Maureen Kennelly said it is clear more needs to be done to ensure their work is supported and encouraged and make the arts sector truly representative of the Ireland of today.

“What we’re hearing from Black Irish artists is that until people see that there’s a clear pathway for them to access the arts sector, until they see people that look like them in their art form getting the funding, being celebrated, that it’s going to be a case of that’s for them, it’s not for me,” she told RTÉ’s News at One.

Ms Kennelly said that existing networks need to be expanded as Black artists need far more support.

“In Ireland, we are particularly characteristic of having informal and formal networks that can be very, very hard to penetrate and breakthrough for people, and particularly for people who are not born in Ireland.

“Black and Black Irish artists often lack the confidence to approach public bodies like ourselves and to ask for guidance.

“We’re here to help and absolutely want to help artists make the very best applications that they can.

“Sometimes the support groups that would support such artists may lack the necessary knowledge to assist them to make the very best application.”

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She said the Arts Council plans to work with galleries, publishers, art centres, theatres, dance companies and support organisations that it funds “to ensure that their policies are diverse and inclusive” to make “the landscape more representative of how life is lived in Ireland”.

“We also want to make our own processes more accessible and clearer and we want to create those support networks so that Black and Black Irish artists can feel more confident in making applications to us”.

“We can make the work of Black and Black Irish artists far more visible. People absolutely need to see themselves reflected in the work that’s all around them.

“Every arts centre that’s in every county in Ireland, they need to be more diverse, they need to be reflecting contemporary life in Ireland back to their audiences and to their artists,” Ms Kennelly said.


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