An article on The Galway Arts Festival 2010 by Mamam Poulet

The Antiroom blog of women writers and commentators always has good things to read, there’s a link on site to the blog , along with an announcement of their recent restart. The Maman Poulet article is linked in full at the base of this post.

This post is essentially a link to the article regarding the lack of parity of esteem given to women writers and creators in this year’s 2010 Galway Arts festival. I had let the issue go somewhat, having enjoyed a nice weekend away but to my utter despair saw the below pasted letter published in today’s Irish Times !!!

It indicates for me that precise nasty response that genuine queries regarding the Arts get in this state, in how silly parallels are drawn against the right to question and also How a National Newspaper sees fit to ramp up that aggression by publishing a ludicrous letter which refuse to see the problems and attack the questioners.

I really think that people who enjoy women’s art, poetry and writing should read the attached response to the NUIG letter from women academics, it indicates a lot of the barely concealed aggressiveness that dominates a refusal to acknowledge the feminist discourse in Ireland. So, of course I am publishing it in toto here with specific emphasis on the last paragraph.

Feminism and feminist discourse has barely reached its infancy in Ireland where it is underfunded , ignored or treated with brutality by such a letter writer and hacked up onto the pages of a national broadsheet by a woman editor who evidently is little concerned with the issues raised.

Madam, – In response to the “Galway (Men’s) Arts Festival” letter (July 15th). It is not that Galway Arts festival shouldn’t be taken to task for many of its failings – most notably the undermining and low level of support of local artists for many years (which led to “Project 06” – a fringe festival created in order to draw attention to this). I would, however, like to highlight the many minefields created when someone (or even a large portion of a university department) starts to question the gender equality of any organisation.

In the organisational team of the Galway Arts Festival, as listed on its programme, there are 14 women listed as opposed to 11 men’s names. It doesn’t really seem to fit the profile of a chauvinist think-tank. Maybe there were fewer performance groups figure-headed by women putting themselves forward for consideration this year. Maybe the female-dominated organisational committee prefers male performers. Or maybe, just maybe, the acts were chosen purely on merit and not on gender grounds at all.

Finally, I must inquire why there isn’t a men’s studies course on offer in NUI Galway to contrast the women’s studies course there? *Maybe it’s time to change its name to NUI(W)G – National University of Ireland’s Women, Galway? Just a thought.** – Yours, etc,

Maman Poulet’s original Antiroom article.

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