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Making a case for the arts - The Evidence

Monday 24th November 2014 at 3pm

Image: Arts Council Chief Executive Roisin McDonough is urging the public to support the No More Cuts for the Arts call.

The arts deliver great benefits to all areas of life in Northern Ireland and we need to communicate this to our decision makers and influencers – our local politicians, business leaders, community leaders and broadcasters. We need them to understand clearly what cuts to arts funding would mean to all communities, to the young, the old and the marginalised. 

The arts have intrinsic creative value and cultural value; they also contribute to improving our society, education, health and economy. We need to use all of these narratives to make a strong case for the arts.

Use our research and stats to support the case why public investment in the arts is important. Please use and adapt these key advocacy messages at every opportunity.

We have produced a series of infographics to illustrate key facts and figures about the arts budget, and the impact of investment in the arts to the economy and society in Northern Ireland. Click on the respective image to download your selected infograghic.



The value of the arts

• The arts are cheap to support but deliver big returns for our economy and for our society. The arts currently receive just 0.1% of the Northern Ireland budget. It makes no sense to make further cuts to a sector which generates such a high rate of return on its investment.
• Cuts to the arts budget will result in the contraction of frontline services and reduction of education and outreach programmes.
• The arts bring people and communities together and make our lives richer. We saw this in action during Derry~Londonderry’s transformation into UK City of Culture 2013.
• Public investment is the key to building confidence and leveraging additional funding from sponsors and private investors.
• The creative sector is one of the fastest growing in the economy, creating economic growth and jobs
• The arts support the work of many government partners, helping them to achieve their objectives in regeneration, reconciliation, tourism, creative industries, education and health.
• The arts distinguish us from other places, make the world talk about us for all the right reasons and raise our global profile as a progressive place that’s ready to compete and do business

The arts provide clear economic benefits:
• Promoting Northern Ireland as a creative place and a location of choice for international businesses
• Generating major employment and revenue through the Creative Industries
• Reviving our towns and cities through the network of venues and our arts-led regeneration programmes, for example ‘Building Peace through the Arts – Re-imaging Communities’ programme
• Providing one of the main attractions for the tourist industry

Here are some of the statistics on the value of the arts to Northern Ireland’s economy:

The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) provides strong evidence in support of the economic impact of the arts.
For example, five of the big arts events of the Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013 together produced:
• £20 return on every £1 invested by NITB
• £15.5m tourism impact
• 330,396 visitors

The 2012 Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s generated:
• £2m benefit to local businesses
• £577,180 tourism revenue (including £112,637 accommodation and £464,543 food, drink, transport, shopping)
• 311 full-time equivalent jobs

Creative Industries
Prosperous economies are characterised by a strong creative sector and the creative industries are recognised across the world for their potential for wealth and job creation. They create wealth and jobs through the development of intellectual property and creative content, products, services and experiences.

This diverse sector can also stimulate wider innovation across the economy and new ways to add value to other more traditional business sectors such as manufacturing and tourism.

In 2012 Northern Ireland’s Creative Industries:
• employed 40,000 people, representing 5% of total employment in Northern Ireland
• generated £714m Gross Value Added to the local economy

Arts venues are helping to regenerate our towns and cities, revive the evening economy, and restore civic pride.
Arts venues outside of Belfast contribute a total of:
• £8.2m annual net economic impact
• The Millennium Forum in Derry~Londonderry, for example, contributed a net economic impact of £2.8m to the local economy
• 40% of venue users come from outside the local area

In Belfast, 300,000 people visited the new Metropolitan Arts Centre (The MAC) in its opening year, smashing its visitor target by over 75%.


The Arts Council’s 109 Regularly Funded Organisations provide year-round the full range of professional arts and entertainment services for the public, from carnival and circus skills to theatre and opera. 
• Employing 5,108 staff plus 1,835 volunteers
• Generating income of £48.1m
• Delivering 24,171 performances, 4,693 participation-based events, 445 exhibitions

The arts reach across all levels of society:
• Bringing people and communities closer together
• Supporting the work of our teachers in the classroom
• Supporting positive mental health and wellbeing in our healthcare environments
• Strengthening the voice of vulnerable people and marginalised communities
• Creating a place where we all want to live

Here are some of the statistics on the value of the arts to Northern Ireland’s society:

• 79% of Arts Council investment goes to the most deprived areas of Northern Ireland
• 53% of the work undertaken by the Arts Council’s Regularly Funded Organisations takes place in Neighbourhood Renewal areas
• 68% of the work undertaken by the Arts Council’s RFOs is delivered on a cross-community basis
• 55% of the work undertaken by the Arts Council’s RFOs takes place in hospitals, schools and with community organisations.

• Arts-led community regeneration programmes, such as the ‘Building Peace through the Arts – Re-imaging Communities Programme’ have engaged over 1,500 individuals in arts-based activity, helping local neighbourhoods across NI to tackle sectarianism and racism and find positive ways to express community identity.

• Arts organisations such as Young At Art, Cahoots NI and Replay provide creative learning experiences for children of all abilities, from Early Years on, helping to develop language and communications skills, improve interaction with others, self-expression and the creative skills that will improve social mobility and employability.

• The arts lead by example when it comes to promoting cultural pluralism, with arts-led initiatives such as the Intercultural Arts Programme designed to increase opportunities for greater engagement between our diverse communities and funding support for minority ethnic arts.

• The ‘Arts and Older People’ programme has been strengthening the voice of older people, promoting active ageing and addressing social issues affecting older people. There have been 6,000 participants, with participants reporting marked decreases in levels of loneliness, boredom and isolation, and improvements to their mental wellbeing, sense of purpose and physical health.

• Organisations such as ArtsCare have been helping to promote the quality of life of patients, their families and the healthcare staff through a range of initiatives, including the Clown Doctors at children’s units in acute hospitals.

The public support the arts:

In Northern Ireland:

• 81% of the public believe the arts enrich the quality of our lives
• 75% of the public agree that there should be public funding for the arts
• The number of adults engaging in the arts has grown to 79%
• 70% of people living in the most deprived areas engage in the arts
• 96% of young people engage in the arts
• 87% of the public appreciate that the arts attract tourists
• Rural engagement now exceeds urban engagement in the arts
• 52% of disabled people engage in the arts
(SOURCE: General Population Survey 2014)