ArtsMatterNI response to ACNI Board Members’ Statement


As Board Members of the Arts Council, we are aware of the comments made by the Chair of the Arts Council at the Arts and Business Awards event last week. His comments do not reflect any discussion or position which had been agreed by the Arts Council Board. It is therefore our understanding that the Chair was speaking as an individual.

We note the Arts Council Executive’s response to the budget issued last Friday and we look forward to a detailed discussion at the next Board meeting on how we will make the case for the Arts over the coming period.

Issued on behalf of:

  • Cian Smyth
  • Katherine McCloskey
  • Siun Hanrahan
  • Anna Carragher
  • Paul Mullan
  • David Alderdice
  • Noelle McAlinden
  • Leon Litvack



The ArtsMatterNI campaign to save arts funding acknowledges with deep concern this statement of clarification from the Board of the Arts Council.

The fact that 8 out of 11 board members acknowledge that the advocacy statements of the Chair do not accord with any agreed position within the Board is deeply troubling to the sector as we battle further proposed cuts.

An arm’s length body (ALB) like the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, has public and professional responsibilities and must be held accountable for their official pronouncements. It is now evident that in this instance and perhaps in others, the ACNI Chair expresses views that actually may not be the collective view of the vast majority of his publicly appointed colleagues.

Conor Shields, convenor of the Arts Matter NI campaign group commented:

Many of us who were in the audience or read about the awards event last week, were deeply disappointed with what the Chair of the Arts Council had to say. It is now abundantly clear that Mr Edmund wasn’t representing the views of the Arts Council Board. We need those with a duty to advocate to actively support our sector, not undermine it.

For a sector that engages 9 out of every 10 people here and is once again battling against disproportionately deep cuts, all our colleagues, artists, audiences, participants and communities, need to remain confident about the leadership and advocacy coming from our principal funder, The Arts Council of Northern Ireland.