Arts Council cuts Guth Gafa funding for 2015 to zero

Guth Gafa LogoThe Arts Council of Ireland has informed Guth Gafa that we will not be receiving any funding support for 2015.

This is a devastating blow to our festival.

For the past eight years The Arts Council, along with The Irish Film Board, has been Guth Gafa’s most consistent supporter.

Last year they became our largest single funder, with a contribution of €8,500, which represented nearly 20% of our entire budget.

Yes that’s right. For less than €50,000 we have managed to stage Ireland’s only independent documentary film festival, which has become an internationally recognised festival of excellence, a favourite among visiting foreign film makers and a valuable outreach resource for schools. Last year we ran Guth Gafa in two locations – Donegal and Meath.

The decision to cut our 2015 Arts Council funding completely, appears to have been made because of our relocation to Co Meath and the fact that we will not be holding the festival in Co Donegal this year.

In a letter, The Arts Council, praises Guth Gafa for consistently delivering on the funding support we have received.

But they add:  “The change of location raises questions in regards to the future development of the festival and cultural cinema provision in both Donegal and the Meath-Dublin region. In this context it is not prioritised.”  Full text of Arts Council letter below.

What seems to be implied by this decision is that arts organisations in County Meath because of proximity to Dublin do not need the same level of arts funding or support. This has implications not just for County Meath but for Counties Wicklow and Kildare as well.

This funding cut is a huge and devastating blow to Guth Gafa, our supporters, and the team of people who have worked, mostly voluntarily, for eight years. As Festival directors, we have not taken a salary for a number of years now, and most of our team of 5 work for 2 to 3 months only on minimum wage.

Arts Council funding over the past eight years has been absolutely crucial in enabling Guth Gafa to grow our Festival and expand our outreach of award-winning international and Irish films.

We believe this decision is not only unjust but unfair.

On the one hand the Arts Council praises us for delivering and on the other hand it questions our future commitment.

The reality is that we have done everything to make Donegal work as the primary location of the Festival but with the challenges the location posed, coupled with a steady decrease in support from all of the public funding bodies it had become a mountain too hard to climb.

If there was a genuine commitment among public funders to deliver arts to remote rural locations, this has to be supported with adequate finances. We have approached the Arts Council (and Failte Ireland) every year for the past 3 or 4 years to request permission to apply for the higher level of funding, reserved for organisations like Earagail Arts Festival in Donegal who for 2015 received €40,000 from Failte Ireland (Guth Gafa got €3,000) and Earagail received €170,000 from The Arts Council (Guth Gafa got €0). We have been told every year that we are not eligible to apply for these funds.

Our decision to relocate the festival to Kells provides us with access to a much wider audience and a genuine opportunity to build the festival and expand its outreach programme while also crucially, retaining its unique ‘festival village’ identity.

But we continue to need support to do this.

So, what can we do?  Well, we have to FIGHT this decision.  And we would urge all our friends and supporters to help us now by drawing attention to this funding cut.  We plan to exhaust every avenue to:  1. Challenge this decision of The Arts Council, and 2. Raise money from other sources to replace these funds.

There will be a 9th Guth Gafa Festival in October this year in County Meath. Please help us make it happen.


1.  Please send an email and copy it to any, or preferably all, of the following people:   Minister for Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht   Minister of State for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht    Acting Head of Small Festivals, Arts Council      Festivals Officer, Arts Council     FAO  Sheila Pratschke, Chair of The Arts Council    Director of The Arts Council      Press Office, Department of Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht     Arts Unit, Department of Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht   Film Unit, Department of Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht   Head of Film, Arts Council

An email, with ALL THE ABOVE ADDRESSES ON ONE EMAIL ready to send can be found here.  Please change subject if you wish, and add your own message in.

Also, please copy your emails to Donald Clarke, Irish Times writer   and a regular suporter of Guth Gafa, and any other media you think appropriate.

Please copy us  on your emails.

And if you live in Meath, Wicklow or Kildare, your local TDs email addresses can be found here

2.  Share this message on Facebook, Twitter and by all other social media

3.  Contribute to our GUTH GAFA BEATS THE ARTS COUNCIL CUTS funding campaign by purchasing your FESTIVAL PASS in advance here (fully transferable to a friend if you can’t make the dates), or make a small DONATION through Paypal to

Let’s show The Arts Council that we have a festival that is more than deserving of their funding support.  And that if they refuse to reverse their decision, then we will still have a great 9th Guth Gafa Festival which Ireland and the arts community should be proud of.

We will keep you updated every week as to how this campaign goes.

Thanks for reading this.

David Rane & Neasa Ní Chianáín
Festival Co-Directors


Guth Gafa International Documentary Film Festival
Festivals and Events Scheme Application, Strand 1, Round 2, 2015
Application Number: A077192, ARN: 32816

Festival Name: 9th Guth Gafa International Documentary Film Festival
Dates: 1 – 4 October
Location: Meath

From an artistic and management perspective this is a well written proposal from an organisation that delivered on past supports. A significant feature of this application is that the festival will permanently move to Kells, Co. Meath after a long period in Donegal. Although this plan is discussed to some degree in the application and supporting material, the rationale for this substantial change should have been more fully addressed considering its significance. There are also questions in relation to the proposed timing of the event. The festival meets the objective of the scheme and on the basis of its artistic programme would deserve consideration for funding, although the absence of any confirmed artists is quite unhelpful. The change of location raises questions in regards to the future development of the festival and cultural cinema provision in both Donegal and the Meath-Dublin region. In this context it is not prioritised, however the festival might be subject of future consideration once the consolidation of its new base will become more evident.


Book before end of July


Camping available from Friday 2nd October until Monday 5th October.

Package includes camping space and access to ALL films, ALL talks, ALL music gigs (except Opening Film and Masterclasses)

3-day Weekend Film & Camping Pass BOOK EARLY BIRD HERE €90 per person (full price after 31 July – €110)

WEEKEND FILM PACKAGE (non-camping)  €55 to €70

Packages includes access to ALL films, ALL talks, ALL music gigs (except Opening Film and Masterclasses).

3-day Weekend Pass BOOK EARLY BIRD HERE €70 per person (full price – €90)

2-day Sat & Sun PassBOOK EARLY BIRD HERE €55 (full price – €70)


Passes include ALL films, ALL talks, ALL music gigs on that day (except Opening Film and Masterclasses).

Friday BOOK EARLY BIRD HERE €20 (Full price – €25)

Saturday BOOK EARLY BIRD HERE €30 (Full price – €40)

Sunday BOOK EARLY BIRD HERE €30 (Full price – €40)


Student weekend passes are also available for both festival weekends for a discount price, and will go on sale shortly. For further details on student prices, contact

Student Passes will also be available at the box office over the festival weekend, with valid student ID. These passes entitle you to attend all film screenings and events over the festival weekend (excluding opening film and masterclasses).  Passes are not transferable.


Tickets and Passes can also be bought on site at the Guth Gafa Box Office in Kells from the end of September More details shortly.

Programme for individual films, talks and music gigs will be announced at the end of August.  Tickets for individual screenings and events will be available when the programme is announced.

EARLY BIRD PACKAGES – full details and prices here



Please check our website for more information:www.guthgafa.comor contact our festival team on
info@guthgafa.comGuth Gafa 2015 is supported by: