Most weeks or months, when you look at your pay slip, and see a chunk of your salary taken by the Government in tax, you have only a rough idea of where that money ends up.
A hospital, maybe, where it pays for insulin for a diabetic child. Or a homeless shelter, where it puts a roof over someone’s head.
Or in the Arts Council, where it pays for – wait for this now – a climate consultant?
€240,000, the Arts Council says in an invitation to tender seen by Gript, is the total value of a contract for a person or persons who will, amongst other things, “Develop and deliver a Climate Action 101 guide for the arts sector.”
Some of the things that will be in the Climate Action 101 plan for our arty friends include:
Brief overview of climate change, action and environmental sustainability
How climate action and environmental sustainability is connected to the Arts and the role the Arts can play.
Top tips on how to approach an arts-led project that engages with climate
An overview of existing resources and support for artists, arts organisations and arts workers.
The desired outcome is for this guide to provide some initial ideas, inspiration and act as a supporting toolkit for those who are considering starting out their climate action and environmental journey.
The successful bidder will also “provide workshops for Arts Council staff on climate action and environmental funding requirements” as well as “create and provide an internal climate action and environmental sustainability training and engagement programme for the Arts Council staff”.
The successful bidder, naturally, will be a “specialist” in Climate Change, and Climate Action.
One might wonder about the value of all of this. The money allocated to the Arts Council is intended, after all, to support the work and output of Ireland’s permanently struggling artistic types. When the public thinks of the Arts Council, they tend to think of plays and films and poetry reading sessions and all that good stuff that most of us like in theory to exist, but don’t always find it engaging to attend.
As it turns out, though, at least this chunk of Arts Council funding is not going to support artists, but to educate them about Climate Change. It would not surprise me – but perhaps I am too much of a cynic – if the beneficiary of such a contract ended up being a person or firm that works in the Climate Sector, gets significant subsidy from the state, and just so happens to be a strong supporter of the agenda of the Green Party.
The specifics of the role, as outlined above, are obviously and self-evidently questionable. Why, for example, does anyone in Ireland need a “brief overview of Climate Change and Environmental sustainability” when RTE, the national broadcaster, are actively devoted to imprinting that point of view on the public with the exclusion of any dissent? Is there any adult in Ireland who couldn’t give you a brief overview of climate change, at this point? I’d suggest there are very few.
Further, it is naturally the case that this role is not intended to encourage thinking, but devotion: There is no room anywhere in the proposal for the encouragement of critical thinking amongst members or staff of the Arts Council. Nor is there any room for the expression of alternative ideas about how one might approach the environment and the climate. In a field that is, in theory, devoted to the freedom of expression and artistic licence, there’s no room for any of that here.
The bigger question, as a voter, and a taxpayer, should be this: Since this is taxpayer money that’s being doled out on a quixotic role whose sole purpose is to advance Green ideas, who signed off on it? Did TDs vote for this money to be spent? If the job ends up going, as it might, to some political sycophant, who is responsible for how that money was spent?
The answer, sadly, is nobody: Nobody in politics voted for this, or signed off on it, or has, truth to be told, any real interest in stopping it. The basic principle is that your money is taken from your pocket, and handed over to the luvvies, to keep them quiet. In return, the luvvies make supportive noises about the Green Party’s view of the world, and can be relied upon to warn anyone who might listen to them about the dangers of the “far right” or whatever the talking point du jour is.
This is how the country is governed, and this is how an entire class of publicly funded people has emerged, who do almost nothing productive, and who earn their keep by lecturing you about your faults. The Government might be awash in cash, according to its figures this week. But that’s no excuse for this kind of abject nonsense.