A POPULAR musical programme that caters for over 100 children from disadvantaged backgrounds on the Southside is facing closure later this month.
A recommendation by the City of Dublin Youth Services Board (CDYSB) to completely cut an annual allocation of €66,000 to the Inchicore based Common Ground music project for children means the scheme faces closure at the end of December.
As a result, the end of the ‘Music for Me’ scheme will mean that some 121 children, between the ages of five and 14, will no longer receive free musical lessons.
The CDYSB acts as a funding vehicle and allocates monies it receives from Dublin City Council and Government departments to local community groups.
Children from the St Michael’s Estate After Schools Club, the St Michael’s Estate Community Youth Project and after schools clubs in Dolphin House, the former Fatima Mansions in Rialto and Our Lady of the Wayside Primary School in Bluebell are involved in the scheme.
Siobhan Geoghegan, director of Artistic Programmes at Common Ground, has called on the Government to reconsider the proposed cut. She maintains children from disadvantaged backgrounds will otherwise be excluded from participating in the arts and culture.
“The Government needs to think about this,” she said. “A total of €66,000 is not a lot of money but the social and cultural benefits this project has for children in this area are massive.
“Some of these children can write their own music, some of them play guitar, some of them form together in a choir and this is really positive. The parents and children are very disappointed.”
Mary Mooney, the director of the CDYSB, confirmed that it had made a recommendation to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to cut the annual e66,000 in funding to Common Ground at the end of the month.
“We fund a lot of projects in the Inchicore, Rialto and Bluebell areas and Common Ground is the only project in the Canal Communities that will be losing its funding,” Ms Mooney said. “We fund projects like the St Michael’s Youth Project that deals with disadvantaged children and it will receive no cut to its funding this year.”
Deputy Eric Byrne (Lab) raised the issue of the funding cut for Common Ground with the Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald, by submitting a parliamentary question to her department recently.
In response the minister said: “No decisions have been made by my department …in relation to the funding allocations to be provided for individual projects, including Common Ground.
“My department has been advised that the CDYSB, in anticipation of reductions in the funding allocations next year, has been holding a series of meetings with the projects within its area in relation to 2013.
“Any proposals or recommendations that a body administering funding on behalf of my department, such as CDYSB, makes in relation to the distribution of funding on account of its local knowledge of the needs of young people would require the approval of my department before they are implemented.”
She added: “My department will be making every effort to advise organisations and projects of their 2013 allocations as soon as possible.”