National Lottery funding from Arts Council NI – 04 April 2019

So, as we had forecast, National Lottery funding from Arts Council NI has been reduced and most organisations across the sector have experienced some cuts to their programme capacity as a result. There have been very few uplifts (three in the dance sector, one in verbal arts) but sadly the biggest headline is regrettably that some organisations have been de-funded completely. Whilst the outcome is better than the Arts Council of N Ireland had asked organisations to prepare for, nevertheless it represents further stretching of budgets that have not been increased for approaching ten years.

This is another dark moment for the arts here. Another year of cuts imposed on this historically underfunded sector albeit that they were not handed down by a government department per se. But unlike in England and Scotland, there was no offsetting of struggling lottery revenues, instead we have to make do with less.

This is another dark moment as we see organisations now threatened with potential closure as result of the removal of funding. Some may indeed find ways to continue, but it may signal the loss of jobs, livelihoods, productions and participation. For the others, it may mean the end.

It signals that we are reduced as a sector again, year after year, cut after cut. It means we fall further behind our nearest neighbours, when we need to be as culturally resilient as possible to deal with the increasing and alarming level of change occurring all around us. It says that ultimately, without political champions for the arts locally, the slide continues.

If we are to see the concept of a ‘creative ecology’ truly understood and enabled, we need all aspects of creativity nourished and the conditions for renewal and regeneration supported. Balancing the equilibrium by assisting those most in need, not most able, would seem an appropriate intervention. An ecological response cannot be Darwinian, instead it requires nurture and sensitive management, relating to the interconnectedness of our fragile eco-system that is our arts sector here.

So, there is little to cheer about. Some can count themselves winners maybe, with some uplift to their coffers but we doubt they feel anything beyond relief. But the Arts in N Ireland are losers today and as a result, this place and all our people lose out as well.

ACNI-AFP-19-20 (pdf)

Brexit statement from Arts Matter NI

In light of the crisis surrounding the UK’s relationship with the EU and whether a deal can or will be agreed, the Arts Matter NI campaign has offered its voice via an agreed collective statement of members.

STATEMENT 10.12.18

The Arts Sector in N Ireland, like many other areas of public and civic life, harbours real fears for the prospect of exiting the EU without an adequate deal in place.

The Arts in Northern Ireland has always prided itself on being outward looking and offering progressive, dynamic and valuable opportunities to audiences, artists and participants, inviting performers and productions from around the world, particularly from our neighbours across Europe.

Our already critically-underfunded sector has had real concerns for some time of becoming even more isolated from creative investment opportunities like Creative Europe and Horizon 2020. Added to this, any further obstacles to the movement of artists and producers and indeed, their equipment, artworks and installations necessary for touring and creative collaboration, would have further negative financial and artistic impacts on our sector and our community.

While the ArtsMatterNI campaign group recognises that the wish of the local electorate was to “Remain” and with many campaign respondents still preferring that option, our campaign group is extremely concerned about the prospect of the UK exiting without a satisfactory deal in place.

We would encourage all those with influence to seek an agreement that affords us all some measure of assurance of a managed transition in the event of Brexit.

We would ask politicians to secure arrangements that provide protections to continued access to international touring, collaboration and investment that the arts here currently enjoy and protect our collective efforts to build peace and prosperity for our small population on the very edges of Europe.

Northern Ireland has experienced more than its share of political and economic turmoil, and the financial and social aftershocks are still felt across our society today. Short of the sureties provided by remaining within the EU, leaving without a deal presents profound concerns for a great many arts and cultural organisations in Northern Ireland. In those circumstances, any deal that recognises our particular status here and affords our sector commercial and creative advantages, would be welcomed.

Download the statement here (pdf)

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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