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The Business Of Art: A New Fund Supporting Irish Artists

The doors to good and evil and the windows to heaven - Christina’s world, by Brian O'Doherty

Stepping into the void created when much of the arts funding was cut in 2008, IMMA 1000 is a fundraising initiative that supports the future of Irish contemporary art. We speak to Aoife Flynn of IMMA about why the fund is needed, how it will be spent and how to dontate.

Parachute by Dorothy Cross, 2005

Parachute by Dorothy Cross

“Ireland is recognised worldwide as an enormously creative country, indeed it is what attracts many people to Ireland. That creativity comes from our culture and our artists, but to retain artists, we need to have a vibrant and sustainable eco-system,” explains Aoife Flynn, Head of Audiences and Development at IMMA.

Severe cuts to arts funding has had a devastating effect on supports available directly to contemporary artists, and as a result, many artists cannot afford to remain here, creating a huge concern for the future of contemporary Irish art and culture.

Porträt 2001 by Thomas Ruff

Porträt 2001 by Thomas Ruff

IMMA 1000 was the brainchild of businessman John Cunningham who was inspired to act after hearing Sarah Glennie, IMMA director, outline the future facing Irish artists should funding not increase: that they can no longer afford to live and work in Ireland.

“In the business world, we frequently hear concerns about ‘brain drain’; where the most talented and promising graduates and young leaders are leaving the country due to the economic crises. We should be equally alarmed about the hundreds of artists who are no longer able to live and work in Ireland.” Cunningham points out, “Artists are crucial in forming and communicating our valuable cultural identity, a vital asset to Irish business abroad and a vital need for Irish people at home. We have to do something tangible to create the future we want for our country, and I want a future with Irish art, something we can achieve together through IMMA 1000.”

The sky looks down on almost as many things as the ceiling, Aleana Egan

The sky looks down on almost as many things as the ceiling, Aleana Egan

Cunningham devised a campaign whereby 1,000 people would donate €1,000 each to create a € 1 million fund that would directly support contemporary art and artists. The IMMA 1000 fund was launched in April of this year and, together with the support of Goodbody, has raised €60,000 to date.

Irish artists have praised the initiative with internationally renowned artist Gerard Byrne saying at the launch, “IMMA 1000 is an insightful recognition of the structural and economic deficits around funding the visual arts. The project responds to these deficits with a resilient and holistic strategy that recognises that just as the artists need their museum, so the museum needs its artists.”

Gerard Byrne, artist; Sarah Glennie, Director, IMMA; John Cunningham, IMMA 1000 founder; Jesse Jones, artist; Grace Weir, artist [photo Paul Sherwood]

Gerard Byrne, artist; Sarah Glennie, Director, IMMA; John Cunningham, IMMA 1000 founder; Jesse Jones, artist; Grace Weir, artist [photo, Paul Sherwood]

Flynn outlines the ways the fund will work. “IMMA 1000 will help IMMA to purchase work from Irish artists for the National Collection, will create bursaries for Irish artists to live and work in IMMA studios, and will create new opportunities for us to commission and exhibit Irish artists, all of which are opportunities for much needed income and also to increase awareness of the artist’s work.”

IMMA 1000 is already changing the landscape of Irish art. “The fund from Goodbody and our founding patrons has enabled us to put ten artist residencies in place for 2016 as part of the Grizedale Arts/ IMMA collaborative project A Fair Land. The founding fund will allow us to work with up to four more Irish artists throughout our programme this year, and if we achieve our targets, we hope to announce an artist residency bursary and acquisitions for the IMMA Collection before the end of the year.”

To support IMMA 1000, call the Development Office on 01 612 9954. Imma.ie

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