As you are no doubt aware, the arts and cultural sector in Northern Ireland faces a financially precarious future as a result of recent and forthcoming cuts to public investment.
The next eighteen months will be a turbulent period with difficult budgetary decisions to be made, a political impasse within the devolved assembly, looming uncertainty from the restructuring of local authorities and the 2015 general election. However, the overall Exchequer budget for the arts has been falling in actual and real terms for over a decade, and per capita spending on the arts is lower in Northern Ireland than in any other part of these islands. This despite stated Assembly priorities on education, community development, tourism and economic regeneration, all of which reference arts, culture and creativity. Investment in our sector deserves to be protected from further – and potentially devastating – cuts.
Since mid-September, arts organisations both large and small have engaged in public conversations about the funding situation. These meetings have resulted in a consensus: The best way we can ensure that our voices are heard in this debate is for the sector to adopt a collective, representative and professional voice. The key way put forward to achieve this was to follow the suit of similar sectors and secure the services of a professional lobbying organisation to help coordinate and advise us on an independent sustained lobbying and advocacy campaign on the single agenda of increased investment in the arts.
We, the steering group for this process, wish to introduce you to the campaign and to ask for your support, including any financial contributions you wish to add to those already made by signatory organisations, to help make it possible to sustain a campaign beyond this budget round.
We have now engaged Stratagem to assist us.
You may belong to an organisation that is perhaps one of over 150 recently or currently funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Along with numerous individual artists, you may well deliver key arts and cultural activity to the people of Northern Ireland. As such, we invite you to be part of this campaign.
Taking into account the costs, for a year-long campaign (as well as a generous pro bono offering from Stratagem themselves) this campaign could be funded with a minimum contribution of £200 per organisation. But, each and every contribution is welcomed.
We understand that larger organisations may be able to contribute above this amount, and that smaller organisations will likely struggle to meet it. We are open to all contributions. To be effective, this advocacy needs to belong to all of us who value the arts and culture in Northern Ireland.
To facilitate the campaign, Community Arts Partnership have agreed to make available a separate and dedicated bank account and provide administrative support in order to process contributions, produce income and expenditure reports and clearly account for the finances.
Send cheques to:
Community Arts Partnership,
7 Donegall Street Place,
and mark on the back “Arts Campaign”. If you wish to send monies electronically, please contact CAP’s administrator Marta on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02890 923 493 for account details.
If your organisation is unable to contribute at this time you can still get involved by registering your support for the campaign by sending an email to Kevin Murphy at the address above. In the coming weeks we will develop an online presence and regular communications to keep everyone updated on progress.
If you have any queries Individual members of the steering group are happy to discuss this proposal with you further. You can contact us via email email@example.com
Adam Turkington (Culture Night Belfast / Seedhead Arts)
Aine Dolan (Grand Opera House)
Ali FitzGibbon & Claire Kelly (Young at Art)
Anne McReynolds (The MAC)
Chris Ledger (Arts & Disability Forum)
Conor Shields & Gordon Hewitt (Community Arts Partnership)
Keara Fulton (Ulster Association of Youth Drama)
Kelly-Anne Collins (Dance Resource Base – Facebook)
Kevin Murphy (Voluntary Arts Ireland)
Margaret Henry (Audiences NI)
Mary Trainor-Nagele (Arts & Business NI)
Peter Richards (Golden Thread Gallery)
Richard Lavery & Emily DeDakis (Accidental Theatre Company)
Stephen Beggs (freelance / on behalf of Northern Ireland Theatre Association)
Tracy Marshall (Belfast Exposed)
Will Chamberlain (Belfast Community Circus School)