Members of Castlebar Town Council became involved in a heated row over what they could do to help The Linenhall Arts Centre cope with cuts from the Arts Council.
Cllrs Therese Ruane and Michael Kilcoyne both brought motions regarding The Linenhall to last week’s meeting of the authority amid fears it may close in the coming years due to the level of cuts to Arts Council funding it has experienced.
However, Cllr Kilcoyne was accused of leading The Linenhall ‘up the garden path’ with his motion that the council request that the Town Manager include an allocation of €40,000 for the centre in 2013.
Town Manager Seamus Granahan told the meeting that to put such an allocation of €40,000 in the draft budget would be wrong, as the council’s financial situation is under pressure.
“We are in a volatile situation, we’re being cut like everyone,” said Mr Granahan. “We’re losing out from rates collections, possibly from a household-charge shortfall, and I’m advising members that if we are to pay this €40,000, it will have to come from somewhere else.
Town Clerk Marie Crowley told Cllr Kilcoyne that: ‘barring a miracle, you won’t have €40,000 to give to the Linenhall’.
Cllr Ger Deere accused Cllr Kilcoyne of playing ‘populist politics’, as two members of The Linenhall Arts Centre were at the meeting.
“You are leading these people up the garden path. This is a serious issue. You’ll be the very man Cllr Kilcoyne to say down the line that others need money,” he said.
Cllr Ruane’s motion that a council delegation meet with representatives from The Linenhall Arts Centre to explore ways of addressing its budget deficit met with widespread approval.
Cllr Blackie Gavin said that staff at The Linenhall were very fearful about the next two years, and that if the trend of cuts continue, the centre would close. Cllr Harry Barrett said that the Linenhall was the ‘heart and soul of culture in the town’, a sentiment that was echoed by Cllr Ruane.
Both motions were resolved. The council is due to meet with members of The Linenhall before the start of the next monthly meeting of the authority.
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