Sabina Higgins addresses Abbey Theatre’s ‘Dear Ireland‘ project
Abbey Theatre, Dublin, Monday 10 August 2020
Good evening everyone.
I am very pleased to be here with you to join in the conversation about the essential role of the cultural space, and all those who work within it, in our society, particularly in terms of the authentic voice that artists and creative people offer and the great layer of humanity they bring to a truly functioning and democratic nation.
In March, in the shadow of the coronavirus crisis, the lights began to fade across our cultural spaces – our theatres, concert halls and so many other spaces that nurture and encourage our capacity for imaginative possibilities. Since then, the livelihoods of our artists and all those who work in the creative sector have faced perhaps the greatest threat they have encountered in living memory.
Yet, throughout the challenge of Covid-19 many wonderful people have found many imaginative and inventive ways in which to ensure that some outlets for cultural engagement remain available.
As we begin to re-open the economic and social dimensions of our society it is critical that the vital contribution of the arts to both those dimensions is not overlooked or viewed as an unaffordable luxury in a time of crisis.
As part of “Dear Ireland” I have been invited to read to you a letter that President Higgins wrote to the Heads of the European Institutions, and to Heads of State across Europe, in which he outlined his thoughts on how to address the devastating consequences of Covid-19 for our cultural practitioners and institutions. He wrote to: The President of the European Parliament, The President of the European Commission, The President of the European Council and to 14 Heads of State who are part of the Arraiolos Group of Presidents of which President Higgins is a member. The President has had a lifelong commitment to arts and culture and all those who work in the cultural space. It is a commitment that remains a focus of the Presidency and our work in the Áras. I am delighted to have the opportunity of sharing this letter with you.