Conference Room A, NICVA, North City Business Park (map
Thursday 18th January at 10am
Where do we go from here?
As you are aware, last week, in both Belfast and Derry-L’Derry, a large cross section of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Annually Funded (AFP) clients came together to hear ACNI Chief Executive Roisin McDonough detail pressures on the arts budget, modelling cuts of 8%. Those of you who keep an eye on my so-called CAPtain’s blog will have understood much of this and furthermore recognised that the Arts Matter NI campaign had already written to Mr Leo O’Reilly, Permanent Secretary of the Dept for Communities and received a response from the Head of Culture, Joanna McConway.
The campaign was aware that the Department had been modelling cuts of 4%, 8%, 12% and that DfC had indicated there should be no assumption of additional monies being made available. We also know that contrary to that assertion, £625,000 of additional funds were in fact made available to just two organisations in the sector this financial year.
We also heard about the efforts that the Arts Council have made to advocate for our funding position. And the sector identified a long litany of challenges and possible solutions to assist.
But the majority opinion was that efforts to renew our advocacy across the sector must be taken and as sense of immediate actions and re-engaging an on-going campaign in the more intermediate term was necessary to give the sector a stronger, collective platform from which to challenge the egregious funding decisions around cuts to Revenue funds, compounded by the diminishing Lottery budgets available.
To this end and at very short notice I know, we have secured Conference Room A, NICVA, North City Business Park, 61 Duncairn Gardens, Belfast BT15 2GB, on Thursday morning at 10am, as a venue for AFP client organisations to come together again and formulate a collective response from within this sector.
We are well aware that everyone has busy schedules and it may not be possible to attend. We will be drawing together at least one communique from the meeting that will be offered to all to add their name to and we will seek to report on key campaign recommended actions and next steps.
Bear in mind, when we challenged the then Minister of Culture via a campaign and rally only 2 years ago, that we saw cuts mitigated and monies re-instated. Having had 10 years of contracting arts and cultural budgets within government and now the forecast of cuts coming not from government, but from our public servants, we believe that a campaign must give voice to the deep concern that we have for our community of arts practitioners, audiences and participants across all disciplines and settings.
Conor Shields, convener of ArtsMatterNI campaign group
Please respond to firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm attendance.