Seventy-six into €367,000 won’t go nicely but Galway City Council’s decision to reduce Macnas’ grant by €8,000 this year just doesn’t add up, whatever way you look at the figures.
The street theatre company might not be able to provide an economic impact assessment like some of their compatriots, but they managed to attract thousands of people onto the dismal winter streets just a few weeks ago for what some people called the best parade in their 27 year history.
All the stranger then is the decision by Galway City Council to reduce their funding by €8,000 to €24,000 this year, especially as it comes in the wake of the group also failing to reach agreement with Galway Arts Festival in relation to funding earlier this year, which meant their summer parade did not go ahead for the first time since 1987.
The council has said the overall cuts to the council’s budget is the only reason funding for the street theatre group is being reduced, which will provide cold comfort for any group whose national funding is also dependent on what they receive locally.
And, while the council’s overall arts budget pot is €34,000 lighter this year, down from €401,000 in 2012, other major festivals and events didn’t have their funding slashed to the same extent, with Galway Arts Festival just getting a €2,000 cut and Druid a cut of €1,000.
The question will be asked as to whether the cuts in funding are the consequences of Macnas’ success in forging new partnerships with organisations such as The Latin Quarter, Avaya, Galway Clinic, Galway West End Traders, Fáilte Ireland and by running a Fund It campaign that raised €10,500 from mainly local people to secure this year’s postponed parade.
If so, it seems desperately unfair and possibly counterproductive, as Macnas has indicated that these partnerships and fundraising initiatives were reliant on repeat funding from Galway City Council arts grants in addition to a special grant secured from the City Council Corporate Policy Group in July.
Equally, Galway City Council’s decision to fund Baboró International Arts Festival for Children separately through the city’s social inclusion officer, after their arts grant application was 32 minutes late, raises questions about how organisations apply for and receive funding.
That festival too, which was attended by 13,000 people this year, has had its funding slashed by €6,500 but that it received funding at all would seem to be a minor miracle.
Galway’s most renowned groups and festivals must be supported in every way, especially if we are to bid to become European City of Culture in 2020.