Musical company

Fears the cuts could shut down the Irish-language theater company

The only Northern Irish language theater company is facing closure due to Arts Council budget cuts.

Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich’s resident theater group, Aisling Ghéar, will fight to overturn a decision that has denied her the annual funding she depends on to survive.

Founded in 1997, the pioneering outfit has received annual funding from the Arts Council for over a decade, providing an invaluable artistic outlet for the Irish-speaking community. However, a series of red tape and Arts Council stipulations could see the business shut down for good after losing funding.

The news comes just days before the Irish-speaking community will be forced to demonstrate for long-promised language legislation.

Ahead of Saturday’s Lá Dearg march, Aisling Ghéar artistic director Bríd Ó Gallchóir stressed the need for an Irish language law.

“The central point here is that we are the most damning example of what happens when there is no legal protection for a minority language community,” she said.

“A state agency can simply cut off this community’s access to theater, arts, culture and educational benefits – all through a single company that has continued to survive and produce with resources ever-decreasing financials.”

The closure of Aisling Ghéar could see Gaelgeoirí lose the opportunity to experience theater in their own language.

“We’re the only ones who can do it, we’re the only ones qualified to do it, and that means we’re the only ones who serve many organizations,” she said.

“I taught theater in Coláiste Feirste, I produced radio plays with volunteer broadcasters in Raidió Fáilte, we performed bilingual sketches in Turas with Linda Ervine’s classes. We produced works about people like Robert McAdam to bring to the Protestant community and we have produced work on Alice Milligan, again to tell stories of members of the Protestant community who support the Irish language and Irish culture.We play multiple roles – not to mention of the fact that we are producing the pantomime that all Gaelscoileanna attend – which will no longer be available for these children.”

A spokesperson for the Arts Council said: “It is not appropriate for the Arts Council to discuss an applicant organization in a public place.

“We have been in touch with Aisling Ghéar and provided them with detailed feedback on their annual funding request, as well as advice on other grant programs they can apply for.”

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