Statement – 5th February



Members of The Arts Matter NI campaign are deeply concerned to read unconfirmed reports in the Belfast Telegraph (2nd February) of “no confidence votes and walk-outs in opposition to the Chair John Edmund”, by the majority of the Board of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Given the Arts Sector’s profound anxiety about proposed cuts and successive reports of the advocacy position of the current Chair, after these further revelations, members of Arts Matter NI do not believe that this Chair can champion our best collective interests.

This follows an eight-strong majority of the Arts Council Board issuing a public statement on 30th January disavowing the Chair’s public pronouncements of 24th January at an awards event in Belfast.

Given that no denials have been issued regarding Friday’s further reports of votes of no confidence and walkouts, we are greatly concerned. If this is indeed the case, as it appears, that the board were acting within agreed norms of good governance and in light of the Arm’s Length principle, then, we share grave misgivings about the Chair’s ability to command the confidence of our sector, its principal funder and stakeholders and would ask that he consider his position.

At a time when the Arts Sector is campaigning against the proposed imposition of unfairly disproportionate and deep cuts, we urge that stability, assurance and support for the arts economy, infrastructure and community be a priority.

With this in mind, and in the absence of a functioning Assembly Executive, we ask once again that the new Secretary of State, Rt Hon Karen Bradley, meet urgently with our representatives to discuss the concerns of this sector regarding the need to maintain and increase investment in the arts.


Arts Matter NI Statement on the projected arts cuts

jump to the list of AFP organisations endorsing this statement


Arts Matter NI, as the sector-wide campaign to save arts funding, held a sectoral meeting on 18th January in NICVA and now wishes to make this statement as a reflection of that event.


There comes a time in the ancient lingering execution lingchi, or Death by a Thousand Cuts, when the prisoner begs for the final stroke to end the torture. The only good news is that today as an arts sector, we find ourselves in January – not April and there is renewed optimism that our politicians may return to government and undo egregious cuts to the smallest budget that effects the most citizens – the arts.

The most recent N. Ireland Statistics and Research Agency report states that 91% of our population participate in the arts, that’s a staggering 1,680,000 local citizens who enjoy the cultural offering in theatres and venues, community spaces and schools, hospitals and homes. From the organisations who choose to locate their businesses here, to the tourists who come in their droves, it is the promise of vibrant, cultural colour that enhances and attracts. But these promises may soon be broken as the sector reels from the third significant cut in as many years to the Annual Funding Programme (AFP) from our principal funder, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI).

This cut is likely to be in the order of over 8%. The AFP and the over 100 key organisations that it supports, in turn represent the essential ecology of the arts in Northern Ireland. It is the bedrock upon which the stewardship of the arts locally is built – supporting everything from orchestras and operas, international festivals to community celebrations and workshops for the vulnerable and disabled, embracing creative, commercial and social entrepreneurs and almost every citizen. Historically underfunded for years, it has nonetheless given core support to a diverse, dynamic and multi-disciplined arts sector.

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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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