Business leaders line up to endorse the value of the Arts
Tuesday 9th December 2014 at 10am 0 Comments
Business leaders from across Northern Ireland came together this week to call for no more cuts to the arts budget, in support of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s campaign to protect the 13 pence per person per week currently spent on arts provision here.
From Belfast to Derry, key business men and women, including Paul Terrington, current Chair of the Institute of Directors NI, Maureen McLaughlin from Diamond Corrugated in Derry, and Davy Elliott from energy company AES, put on the record how they valued the contribution of the arts to the economy and made Northern Ireland a better place to work and invest in.
Paul Terrington, Regional Chairman PwC and Chairman Institute of Directors Northern Ireland said, “A vibrant arts and cultural sector is important to Northern Ireland and to my business because it’s a real part of the brand of Northern Ireland as a business location.
“It signals that Northern Ireland is a modern, sophisticated and outward-oriented place. It acts as a counterbalance to some of the downside brand associated with our history. My peers in business also equate having a rich culture with having an intelligent, outward oriented pool of people to draw on. This obviously has a big impact on where they want to do business and invest.
“In PwC we want to be able to keep talented, ambitious people working for our firm in Northern Ireland. We want them to work for clients here and abroad, but to choose to have Northern Ireland as the place to build their lives. A vibrant arts and cultural sector is a key component in making Northern Ireland that place.”
Davy Elliott, AES, one of NI’s largest electricity generators, spoke of the value to the arts to society too. He said, “Arts and cultural give people a sense of wellbeing, and when people feel good about themselves they are happier, they are more productive, they are healthier, and that is good for business.”
Maureen McLaughlin, Operations Director of Diamond Corrugated in the North West said, “Northern Ireland can really benefit from a vibrant arts and cultural sector, in that it improves the image of the region. That is really important for inward investment. Let’s take the example of the City of Derry; who would have believed that in 2013 the Lonely Planet would make us fourth in the world as the Best City to Visit? That’s down to the City of Culture, which was nothing but vibrant and brilliant.”
David Croft, Senior Business Manager, Danske Bank, said of the Arts, “The arts and culture sector is really important as it underlines the strength of the economy as a whole. It is an easy sector to ignore but a strong arts sector is a litmus test of how the economy is actually performing. An improvement in the arts sector gives us more confidence that the economy is recovering”.
Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland said, “The Arts Council is delighted that the leading lights in industry across Northern Ireland are fully behind the campaign for no further cuts to the arts. For a small investment in the arts, Northern Ireland gets a big return and at just 13p per person per week we need to encourage the NI Executive to keep that tiny amount of public expenditure focused on the arts.
“On economic terms alone, what possible sense can it make to cut a sector that feeds 40,000 jobs and generates £714m GVA through the creative industries? Where’s the sense in cutting a sector that puts Northern Ireland on the map for all the right reasons and is capable of transforming a place so that tourism rises by 50%, as happened through Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture?
“The benefits that artists and arts organisations deliver for the economy of Northern Ireland and for society are worth investing in. Organisations like Arts & Business NI work tirelessly to make important and valuable links between the business sector and arts organisations here. Businesses can bring valuable skills to the Boards of many small arts organisations such as the Golden Thread Gallery who currently work with Danske Bank and Diamond Corrugated in the North West, who sponsor the Millennium Forum in Derry~Londonderry. The message is simple, together we are stronger; publicly funded arts organisations and business work well together, so let’s keep investing in rather than cutting the arts budget”.
The Northern Ireland government currently invests just 13 pence per head of population per week in direct funding for the arts. The money received by the Arts Council is used to award grants to support a diverse range of arts activities from festivals and venues, to performances and community-based projects.
In 2014/15 the Arts Council received £12.3million pounds in government funding, representing just 0.1% (1,000th) of the NI Executive budget. The Arts Council has been asked by the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure to plan for an 11.2% cut in the next financial year, as part of plans announced in the Finance Minister’s Draft Budget in October.
The Arts Council has launched a postcard petition and is asking the public to sign it in support of no more cuts to the arts budget. Postcards and petition collection boxes are available in 40 Arts Centres across Northern Ireland. Alternatively, an online petition can be found here, as well as details of how you can write to the Finance Minister directly.