Hundreds of people have answered the call in person to rally for the arts in Northern Ireland here today. Many thousands more have expressed their support through social media.
We are alarmed and disturbed that an in-year cut has been made to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. This cut has been so large that it was inevitable the impact would land with the arts community supported by this Arms Length Body. It has resulted in loss of employment for some, job insecurity for many more and it has taken away programmes that were to be delivered working with communities around Northern Ireland.
We ask that you restore this cut to the arts community by reinstating the money to the Arts Council and to offer continued support for the great work done year round by the highly dedicated, committed and professional arts sector.
We are also seeking your assurance that your party will support a strategy that actively encourages the arts and places it within the forthcoming Programme for Government, to ensure that the funding made available to the Arms Length Body here is at least equitable and comparable with other parts of the UK and Ireland.
Currently, the per capita executive funding for the arts in Northern Ireland is only 60% that of Wales and 35% that of Scotland.
We want you to make sure there are adequate funds to maintain the current arts infrastructure and support the development of a creative economy that can build jobs, artistic opportunities, health, well-being and educational achievement.
We would welcome the opportunity to work in partnership with you in the current and future Departmental arrangements. Together we can promote the value, excellence and impact of the arts for all citizens. And we can create a future where the arts are valued for the contributions they make to a vibrant and cultured society.
We look forward to hearing your response to our requests.
On behalf of The Executive Committee, ArtsMatterNI
When we met the Minister, she confirmed that the arts would be in the next Programme for Government. She said that there would be a draft DCAL strategy for the Arts published for consultation in 3 weeks. She also said that she would meet ArtsMatterNI in 2-3 weeks.
Baby steps, but progress was made. The fight for the arts continues.