The NI Executive’s Department for Communities is creating a new culture, arts and heritage strategy for Northern Ireland.
The department is taking a “codesign approach” to ensure the strategy brings together insight and learning from across the sector, as well as involving policy-makers from local and central government.
The executive has reconvened its Covid-19 cultural recovery taskforce, now renamed the Culture, Arts and Heritage Taskforce, to work on the strategy. It has also created a Local Government Catalyst Group, made up of local council representatives, and a Central Government Catalyst Group, made up of officials from the Department for Communities.
The three groups will work together and consult with stakeholders across the nation, with the aim of producing a draft vision and strategy by spring 2023.
The strategy is intended to “shape better ways for the culture, arts and heritage sectors to be more fully recognised, harnessed and supported as key enablers of a thriving society”.
The department outlined the process for creating the strategy in A Way Forward, a report published in October.
In the report, communities minister Deirdre Hargey said: “I want to approach this in ways which empower the culture, arts and heritage sectors and other stakeholders to articulate, catalyse and embed a shift in how these sectors are more fully recognised, harnessed and supported as key enablers of equality, inclusion, innovation and social and economic change.”
“Sectors here feel constantly on the defensive, repeatedly having to justify their existence,” Hargey added. “They feel overly ‘instrumentalised’ yet insufficiently recognised or resourced, with key aspects of the culture, arts and heritage ecosystem not fully understood by decision-makers and funders.”
She said: “These sectors acutely feel the absence of a vision and cohesive roadmap, which can drive joined-up approaches with and across central and local government.”
The minister said work on the strategy would take a “whole-of-government” approach to ensure it aligned with other government sectors, as well as emphasising collaborations and partnerships, focusing on the ecosystem of the sector and engaging people and communities.
“A new vision and strategy for culture, arts and heritage here can finally connect and fully unlock our creative potential,” said Hargey.