The future of a long-running festival is at stake after it was rejected by the Arts Council for the first time since 2006.
rian Merriman, who founded the International Dublin Gay Theater Festival in 2004, says they are deeply disappointed with the decision. She has now lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman’s Office.
Mr Merriman, the festival’s artistic director, said that in 2019 the non-profit received funding of €15,000 from the Arts Council. But then it cut funding for the festival by 50 percent in 2020.
He had hoped to have restored funding for this year’s May 2-15 event. However, Mr Merriman had faltered after her application for financial assistance was denied.
“We are absolutely exhausted. Our festival is tiny. There are 130 million euros [Arts Council] Grants and their mission this year was to help the arts recover,” he said.
“This is the first time in 17 years that we have not received support. This relentless negative action has seriously jeopardized our future. It’s very frustrating.”
Mr Merriman said the International Dublin Gay Theater Festival has not been able to get a straight answer from anyone in the Arts Council as to why their application was unsuccessful.
He made a complaint to the Ombudsman six months ago. In return, the Ombudsman has opened a case and agreed to investigate the matter.
“We have been very reluctant to go to the Ombudsman because we feel it is a blemish on the Council that the Ombudsman thinks there is a case to answer – especially in the year the Council is reporting every viable art form should to get back on stage. But we were singled out,” he said.
Mr. Merriman points out that the event has played a key role in raising awareness of issues facing the LGBTQI community.
During the lockdown, the festival received submissions of 65 new pieces.
“We’ve created something unique, not just for Irish writers and artists, but it’s a form of identity. Mary McAleese even wrote to us and said we would complete the cultural map of Ireland.”
Senator David Norris recently raised the issue with the Secretary of Arts Catherine Martin. Ms Martin wrote to him that she was “disappointed to hear that the festival was not successful in its application to the Arts Council for funding this year”.
The Minister added: “I recognize that the festival is a celebration of diversity and inclusion and has evolved into a valuable artistic platform for the LGBTQ+ community.”
However, Ms Martin said she was barred by law from intervening.
When asked why the Arts Council rejected the festival’s application, its director Maureen Kennelly told dem Irish Independent: “We have very competitive funding rounds and we have very clear and rigorous processes that we go through with organizations.
“We do not comment on these types of individual relationships with organizations out of fairness to them.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/we-are-drained-future-of-gay-theatre-festival-in-doubt-after-failure-to-get-funding-41540158.html ‘We’re drained’: Future of gay theater festival in doubt after failing to secure funding