The MAC in Belfast will receive an increase in its annual funding from £922,500 to just over £1.1m

Budget cuts for Northern Irish arts organisations

Jonathan Knott, 17.04.2018
Arts council reduces funding for 42 organisations and removes it for seven
Almost half the organisations in the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s (ACNI) Annual Funding Programme (AFP) have had their funding cut or removed entirely for the coming financial year.

The arts council announced last week that of the 107 organisations it funded in 2017-18, 42 would receive a reduced grant for 2018-19, and that funding would be removed entirely for seven.

But the MAC (Metropolitan Arts Centre) in Belfast will receive an increase in its annual funding from £922,500 to just over £1.1m, thanks to a grant from the Department for Communities (DfC). The DfC will give £600,000 directly to the MAC and the Ulster Orchestra, which both demonstrated that they were “structurally underfunded”.

Including this grant, the total amount awarded through the AFP in 2018-19 remained the same as last year, £13.1m. This included £8.6m from government and £4.5m from national lottery resources.

A statement from ACNI said that there had been reductions in public funding for the arts of £23m over the last six years. It said: “To date, the arts council has been mitigating the impact of this reducing funding on the arts sector with national lottery funding; this is not sustainable.”

John Edmund, the arts council’s chair, commented: “I am delighted that the arts council is able to award £13.1 million of annual arts funding to support the valuable work of our artists and arts organisations, all of whom are delivering great art for the benefit of everyone in Northern Ireland.

“However, within the context of reducing public funding across government, the board had to make the difficult decision to reduce the number of annually funded organisations while protecting the balance of arts forms for the year ahead. It is with regret that we had to refuse AFP funding to seven applicants; these organisations are eligible to apply to other national lottery programmes in the future.

“All applications received for annual funding this year were eligible, but there simply weren’t the resources to fund all that was asked for. The majority of organisations were offered standstill funding or strategic uplifts, while the remainder received cuts.

“I would like to take the opportunity to commend all those who were successful in their applications and who proposed an inspirational, creative range of arts activities and performances which I look forward to seeing in 2018-19.”