I cannot accept amendment No. 2. I am reviewing the funding arrangements for the National Concert Hall, the National Museum of Modern Art and the National Theatre Society Limited. It would be premature, therefore, to make provision in legislation as proposed at this time. I am undecided as to the efficiency and relevance of the new funding arrangements for the National Theatre Society Limited, the National Concert Hall and IMA which were introduced by my predecessor, Deputy Higgins. I am, however, aware that the National Concert Hall and IMA have never been entirely happy with them.
On amendment No. 3, I assure the House that I have a particular interest in art for those who are disabled. I have made it known that I hope the extra moneys given to the Arts Council by my Department to ensure the arts plan could be completed by the end of this year, a year ahead of schedule taking the last Government's time-table, will place emphasis on the question of regionalisation for the arts, the disabled and the Irish language. I am strongly in favour of access and participation for all for the arts but I cannot accept amendment No. 3 because this is a matter properly within the competence of the Arts Council which may, at its discretion, provide funding for dance and other art forms, including creative communication in sign language. It would be inappropriate for me to seek to influence the Arts Council in how it distributes its global allocation or to seek to provide funding for a specific art form.
I have sympathy with regard to dance as it is one element of the arts in which I have a particular interest myself. The absence of a reference to dance in the definition of the arts has not inhibited the council from supporting the art form to date. There has been support directly from the Arts Council for dance recently. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to have a general review of the Arts Acts in the light of almost 50 years of operation rather than dealing with the reforms piecemeal. This is where we could hold a debate on the establishment of the arts in terms of legislation at a later date.