Arts Matter NI Press Release – 1st May, 2018


Members of the campaign steering subgroup would like to draw attention to a recent, newly declared interest by the chairperson of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, John Edmund. ACNI’s register of interests 2018/19 shows an entry for April detailing: “Assignment for the Nerve Centre on workforce planning for NI Screen industries commenced 1st April 2018 and due to end on 1st June 2018.”

We have obvious concerns that we would like to raise.

  1. Whilst many ACNI board members have made various declarations, is it appropriate for the Arts Council chairperson to work for an organisation in direct receipt of Annual Funding from the Arts Council?
  2. Is NI Screen, also in receipt of funds from ACNI, formally part of this assignment too?
  3. Does the acceptance of this assignment not constitute a real conflict of interest that cannot simply be declared? What is the view of the governing department, the Dept for Communities, around this?
  4. Given this same chair has publicly refused to stand down despite 2 votes of no confidence from his board, does this not present a further serious undermining of appropriate governance protocols within ACNI’s board?
  5. At a time when the Arts Council has presided over cuts to 43 AFP organisations across the sector, is it appropriate that the Chair of the Arts Council personally enters into a potentially lucrative contract with an Arts Council AFP client?

The arts sector, our local citizens and every taxpayer who contributes to public funding should be confident that N Ireland’s principal funder of the arts has robust and appropriate checks and balances on their procurement and appointments, especially concerning those charged with its governance. There remain questions as to how confident we actually might be.



2018/19 REGISTER
April 2018
John Edmund
Assignment for the Nerve Centre on workforce planning for NI Screen industries commenced 1st April 2018 and due to end on 1st June 2018.

#ArtsMatterNI is an arts advocacy group of professionals, participants and volunteers from across Northern Ireland.

We engage our constituency of interest extensively, prepare submissions; recommend actions and support the separate and powerful responses already made by our colleagues across the sector and urge the government to see the value and benefit of the arts and to grow investment in the arts rather than cut it.

We draw on the popular mandate demonstrated about these proposed cuts together with endorsement from over 81 Annually Funded client organisations of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, with robust supporting evidence and clear and growing public support.

We lobby and encourage government, funders and political leadership – at all its levels – to understand, absorb and acknowledge the strength of feeling and emotions thus expressed by recognising that the arts are integral to society, not a luxury.

Conor Shields

AMNI statement 10.4.18

Today has been a much anticipated and dreaded one. For some among us the worst possible outcome has been delivered today, with organisations being cut totally from the AFP  – we know of a handful so far. For others, it may have been less of an upheaval.

To all those colleagues and friends whose livelihoods and organisations find themselves today in extremely difficult circumstances, members of this campaign have been consistently determined to work collectively and supportively across all disciplines, to oppose these cuts and offer solidarity in our response and to demand fair and proportionate funding. As the ArtsMatterNI campaign, it is clear we have a lot of work ahead, to persuade others of the need for that recognition and investment to be made.

But this is a difficult day for the whole of the Arts Sector – it is a day when all our organisations, staff, trustees, artists, participants, audiences and beneficiaries know the challenge that lies ahead for all of us if we are to see a meaningful arts ecology survive – we must campaign vigorously for the required invest, which is only the tiniest fraction of the Department for Communities expenditure.

On behalf of the Arts Matter NI campaign, we offer our sincerest sympathies to all that have lost funding whether partially or more devastatingly, by being absolutely cut from the Annual Funding Programme. It must be devastating news to have the work you so carefully nurtured over time, made so precarious by these cuts.

Whether the exact quantum is less than the 8% cut, first-feared, across all organisations, the fact that there are winners and losers will make this funding news all the more difficult to bear.

We all of us should respond robustly as a sector to these egregious cuts, and respond not just to Arts Council, for whom today’s decisions cannot have been easy to arrive at, particularly without a current strategy and with the reported governance issues still reportedly unresolved but to the Department for Communities for instigating these cuts without any challenge to budgetary proposals or mitigation advocated.

20 years on, to the very day from the realisation of the Good Friday Agreement, with all its hope for a better, brighter, more shared future, it is breathtakingly bewildering and absolutely galling that the shared space that the arts represent and have so expertly maintained and grown for those years, should be such a casualty of funding cuts and the lack of political progress and cultural champion here. The Arts Matter, even more today than they ever did.

Conor Shields , Convener ArtsMatterNI

And click below to view the full list of organisations offered Annual Funding in 2018/19

ACNI Annual Funding Decisions 2018-19

ArtsMatterNI Campaign Statement

ArtsMatterNI Campaign Statement – December 4


Since October last year ArtsMatter NI has been trying to marshal a campaign to see increased investment in the arts and stability in funding arrangements. Since the Arts Policy Forum meeting way back in September at NICVA last year. Arts Matter NI was seeking support from the sector in order to see a range of lobbying and campaigning initiatives emerge. Representatives from the group approached a range of organisations across the region and asked for their support both in terms of campaigning but also for funds to help finance the campaign.

From the get-go it had been envisaged that a professional lobbying group would facilitate our conversations and advocacy with government. We tendered for services and appointed professional lobbyists Stratagem. They in turn facilitated us to develop campaign materials, research and lobbying opportunities at political party conferences at other conferences and to help develop a campaign tool kit which you can find on our website. It had been envisaged that there would have been more initial financial support coming from the 109 annually funded organisations, but by June thanks in no small part to the already stretched budgets of so many organisations, adequate financial support hadn’t materialised to continue the professional services of lobbyists. Just over 20 organisations supported of the campaign (and two individuals gave donations as well) amounting to just over £3,000, probably less about 25% of the value of the work when ones accounts for pro bono and voluntary support and actions.

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