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.