Ulster Museum

NI's culture budget faces £14.5m cut

Rebecca Atkinson, 23.12.2010
Proposed cuts will impact on staffing levels, opening hours and public programming, warns National Museums Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland’s Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure is set to lose over 9% of its budget over the next four years, as part of the region’s draft budget.

The cuts are equal to £14.5m and represent one of the largest cuts compared to other government departments, according to Arts Council Northern Ireland.

Under the draft proposals, the department of culture will see its budget fall from £113.3m in 2010-11 to £103m in 2014-15. Taking the £113.m as a baseline, the accumulative value of the cuts is £14.5m over the four-year period.  

The budget, which was published by the Northern Ireland Executive on 15 December, is under consultation for eight weeks until 9 February 2011. Click here to see the draft budget in full

A spokesman for National Museums Northern Ireland said cuts of this level would inevitably have a detrimental impact on staffing levels, opening hours and public programming.

He added: “The low level of capital allocation will mean that we cannot proceed with much needed investment programmes at the Ulster American Folk Park and Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, where there is much more potential to develop the sites as international centres of excellence, and as museums and visitor attractions of global renown.”

Meanwhile, Arts Council Northern Ireland will see its budget cut by £4.2m, equal to 30%. Its chief executive, Roisin McDonough, said the cut was “disproportionate”.

“Spending on the arts is tiny in relation to other departments, so any savings made by cutting the arts budget will make next to no difference to Northern Ireland’s financial deficit,” she added. “Yet these cuts will cause significant and potentially irreversible harm to the arts, putting jobs and front-line services at risk.”