A pyrotechnic display in Derry-Londonderry for the UK's first Capital of Culture festival in 2013

Northern Ireland's arts council launches campaign against cuts

Geraldine Kendall, 26.11.2014
Advocacy campaign to prevent 11% cut to culture funding
The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has launched a public campaign against a proposed 11% cut to the government’s direct public funding for culture for 2015-16.

The cut would be the biggest yet for the nation’s arts and culture sector and follows six years of successive cuts. The arts council has warned that the reduction would set its budget back a decade to 2005-06 levels.

The cut is proposed by the Northern Ireland Executive in its draft budget for 2015-16, which is open for public consultation until the end of the year.

The arts council’s chief executive, Roisin McDonough, said: "Enough is enough, no more cuts to the arts."

The arts council has provided an advocacy guide for people working in arts and culture, a sample response that can be used by the public to make the case for culture and an online petition to maintain arts funding.

According to the advocacy guide, culture in Northern Ireland accounts for just 13p per head of population in direct funding each year but provides a big return on investment, with arts venues outside Belfast contributing £8.2m in annual net economic impact.

The guide reads: “It makes no sense to make further cuts to a sector which generates such a high rate of return on its investment.”

It continues: “The arts distinguish us from other places, make the world talk about us for all the right reasons and raise our global profile as a progressive place that’s ready to compete and do business.”

In a statement, the arts council said: “We want a fair deal for the arts. That means: no more cuts to the arts budget in 2015-16.”

The arts council has enlisted the Northern Irish actor James Nesbitt to support the campaign. It is urging the public and those working in the cultural sector to respond to the budget consultation before its deadline on 29 December.