On an optimistic note that starts to put meat on the bone, developments are starting to flow from the Farmleigh conference that took place earlier this year.
The report from the conference is available here, and in a statement yesterday Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, announced that an immediate €2.3 million will be provided towards the construction of a new Irish Arts Center in Manhattan, New York.
It appears the initiative stems from a governmental Strategic Review of Ireland U.S. Relations, published last March, and that further impetus was given to the project following Farmleigh. This moves that occasion beyond what was termed by some as a ‘talking shop’, and into the early stages of a concrete action plan.
In what can be described as true partnership the City of New York is providing a site valued at $12 million and a further $8 million in capital funding, and New York City Mayor Bloomberg, Christine Quinn and Gabriel Byrne were recognised for their support and efforts in helping bring this initiative to fruition.
‘The new Center will project a dynamic image of Ireland and Irish America across the U.S.; it will facilitate extensive Irish-related cultural, business and community programs; will showcase quality contemporary Irish theater and art; and will also provide an invaluable resource for the Irish emigrant community in the U.S.’
Minister Martin indicated this is just a first step in the diaspora programme and that he will be making further announcements in the new year. These may include:
- A new Global Irish Network
- Establishment of an Irish innovation center in Silicon Valley
- A Gateway Ireland portal (promoting Ireland and engaging with our global community)
- Expanded educational exchange and scholarship programs
- A new Farmleigh Overseas Graduate Program
He said projects being considered by other departments may also be in the pipeline, and that the private sector were also active in formulating initiatives that would have the support of the government.
So, early signs are positive, and we’ll try and keep up to date with developments as they transpire.