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Arts sector feels the impact of £1.38 million funding cuts

Monday 23rd March 2015 at 8am 0 Comments Acquisitions , Architecture , Arts & Disability , Arts & Health , Arts and Older People , Building Peace through the Arts: Re-Imaging Communities , Circus & Carnival Arts , Community Arts , Craft , Dance , Drama , Film & TV , Intercultural Arts , International Arts , Language Arts , Literature , Northern Ireland Music , Public Art , Traditional Arts , Visual Arts , Voluntary Arts , Youth Arts

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today released the first details of how it will implement the 11.2% cut to funding passed on to it as part of the Northern Ireland Executive’s 2015/16 budget. 

With its annual budget from Government cut by £1.38 million to £10.9 million, the Arts Council has been forced to make difficult decisions that it believes are necessary to stabilise the arts as a whole. This it has done with a strategic perspective designed to protect the future, rather than simply applying the reduction in the same way to each arts organisation.

Today’s funding announcement by the Arts Council outlines its allocation of Annual Funding in 2015-16 to many of Northern Ireland’s major arts organisations.

Bob Collins, Chairman of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented: “We informed the sector that our decisions would be made against the clear strategic goals set out in our Five-Year Plan which had been approved by the Minister and which echoes many of the Executive’s wider priorities. These include making excellent art available to everyone, enhancing community benefit and ensuring a fair geographic spread across Northern Ireland.

“However, the reality of passing on a £1.38 million cut to the arts means we are left with a smaller arts sector, with fewer performances, exhibitions, staff and opportunities for people to engage with the arts. The arts make a valuable contribution to all areas of society but regrettably this latest round of cuts will be felt not only directly in arts provision but across tourism, health, community regeneration, social cohesion and the very Government initiatives that are designed to promote equality and tackle poverty and social exclusion.”

The Arts Council had earlier warned through its ‘13p for the arts campaign’ about the damage that would be caused by significant cuts to an already overstretched arts budget.  Although 23,000 people wrote to the Northern Ireland Executive about cultural issues in response to the draft budget for 2015-16, the campaign failed to influence the final budget outcome for the arts.

Arts Council Chief Executive, Roisin McDonough, commented: “In response to the resources now available to us, we have removed six organisations from the Annual Funding Programme. We did this with great reluctance and we would, under any other circumstances have wished to continue to support them.  We have also reduced funding to umbrella bodies, in order to protect front-line services, and have reduced funding for a number of arts venues because, unlike the rest of the arts sector, they have the capacity to generate additional income through programming and ticketing.

“However, the impact of these cuts is not limited to these organisations as it will be felt across the sector and the wider community. The Arts Council will also make savings for the second year running. This year £244,000 will be saved cross our own staffing and overheads. After all of these cuts have been made what we are left with is a smaller sector, working with reduced income and a reduced capacity to deliver great arts for all.

“This is not the end of the story; we know the cuts to public spending may bite deeper in the future but we hope that in taking difficult decisions this year we have protected the core elements of each art form, so that in better times they will be able to grow again.”

Notes to editors:

Arts Council Annual Funding Programme 2015-16

• The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is the lead development agency for the arts in Northern Ireland.  It is the main support for artists and art organisations throughout the region, offering a broad range of funding opportunities through its Treasury and National Lottery funds.

• The over-riding aim of the Council’s Annual Funding Programme is to support Northern Ireland’s arts infrastructure through grants to organisations in all art forms and practices. Organisations receiving support demonstrate that they require a year-round resource to deliver their programme.
Headline Figures:

• 115 applications received
• 81 clients maintained on standstill funding or received uplifts
• 27 clients face reduced funding 
• 6 clients declined funding
• 1 new client admitted to the programme

• The Annual Funding Programme is based on a competitive funding application process. Applications are assessed on a range of criteria including:
o Make excellent art accessible to all
o Deliver benefits to our community
o Build partnerships
o Geographic spread (both HQ and spread of activity)
o Size and type of organisation
o Risk (to include financial risk and issues arising from previous grant awards)

• A total of £13.5m (made up of Exchequer and National Lottery funding) has been distributed through the Annual Funding programme for 2015/16, compared with £14.4m in 2014/15.

• Funding applications from 6 organisations declined; POBAL, Green Shoot Productions, Guildhall Press, Blackstaff Press, Musical Theatre for Youth and the McCracken Cultural Society.

• In order to protect arts organisations, delivering front line services to the community and which don’t have the ability to earn income through ticketing, annual funding to a number of venues was reduced: the MAC, Lyric, Grand Opera House and Playhouse

• One new entrant to the funding programme was made, the East Belfast Partnership Board for funding towards three festivals EastSide Arts Festival, CS Lewis Festival, and the Woodstock R&B Festival. This application is part of a wider East Belfast Arts Strategy supported by DCAL and Belfast City Council.

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