Arts Matter NI is delighted and relieved by this week’s news that Carál Ní Chuilín, the Minister for the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, has been able to reinstate funds of £620,000 to the arts budget, part of the November Monitoring Round reallocation of funds.
It was this most recent in-year funding cut that led to Arts Matter NI organising a rally at Stormont on Tuesday 3rd November. The rally protested against employment loss, job insecurity, the skills exodus and the end of much valued programmes delivered to disadvantaged communities right across Northern Ireland.
Good news as it is, this reinstatement of funds is only the start of the investment required. The arts sector in Northern Ireland has been long been underfunded and has been affected disproportionately in recent waves of budget cuts. Northern Ireland does not have the same level of service as elsewhere in these islands and the sector is starting to lose its talent to better-funded UK areas: public money allocated per person to the arts in Northern Ireland is only 60% that of Wales and 35% that of Scotland.
As we emerge from conflict towards the vibrant and inclusive society that most of us here want, the arts are an essential part of building a new Northern Ireland. We need to encourage the development of our world-acclaimed natural resource – arts and culture – and increase creative skills amongst our citizens. Creativity is a lasting and desirable skill needed by contemporary employers.
In the wake of the good news, Arts Matter NI maintains its commitment to fight for increased investment in the Arts. We will continue to campaign and work with NI politicians on building a creative economy that will secure jobs, give opportunities for expression, enrichment and entertainment, and contribute to improved health, well-being and educational achievement in Northern Ireland.
Executive Committee, Arts Matter NI