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

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.


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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