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Arts Council highlights crisis of underfunding as Northern Ireland falls further behind

Wednesday 27th November 2002 at 5pm 0 Comments

The Arts Council today called on the new administration at Stormont to redress the chronic under-funding of the arts, which has seen Northern Ireland fall even further behind the rest of the UK in per capita spend.

The statement came at a meeting of the Arts Council held on Thursday 21st November. Professor Brian Walker, Chairman, expressed his dismay at the figures which, he said, "tell a bleak story and describe a level of neglect which is, frankly, unacceptable".

Prof Walker warned that continued poor funding would jeopardise the very existence of some arts organisations in Northern Ireland and that initiatives such as increasing access to the arts and programmes pursuing social inclusion were also in danger.

"The arts communities right across Northern Ireland deserve a break from persistent hardship," he continued. "The Arts Council has made great efforts over the last two years to maximise the impact of the funding available. This has included making National Lottery funds more immediately accessible, integrating them with the funds voted by government, not to mention reshaping the entire Council to enhance ease of application and more effective customer care. But such measures can only go so far in the face of chronic, long-term under-funding. We now urgently need additional funding, so that we can at least be treated equally on per capita terms with our colleagues and fellow artists in Great Britain."

Revenue funding for the four UK Arts Councils

 

 

Population

Arts spend

Per capita

N Ireland

2002/03

1,685,267

£7,315,510

£4.34

 

2001/02

1,685,267

£7,564,659

£4.49

 

 

 

 

 

England

2002/03

49,138,831

£289,680,000

£5.90

 

2001/02

49,138,831

£249,044,000

£5.07

 

 

 

 

 

Wales

2002/03

2,903,085

£18,663,048

£6.43

 

2001/02

2,903,085

£15,171,000

£5.23

 

 

 

 

 

Scotland

2002/03

5,060,211

£33,837,000

£6.69

 

2001/02

5,060,211

£33,706,000

£6.66

 

Prof Walker said that the Arts Council had reminded government repeatedly of the straitened circumstances in which many arts organisations operate day-to-day. "The Council has been consistently seeking additional funds from government. While we are aware of the many claims upon the public purse," he said, "our collective commitment remains to securing the achievements of our artists and arts organisations, while developing new talents and new creative enterprises. Neither of these can be achieved while the annual budget for the arts actually decreases."

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