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Clearer details emerge of Arts Budget 2008-2011

Thursday 29th November 2007 at 1pm 0 Comments

A clearer picture is emerging of the budget allocation that the Arts Council of Northern Ireland may receive from its parent department, DCAL, as a result of the Draft Budget 2008-2011.

Current Arts Council assessment is that the arts in Northern Ireland require an additional £26m investment over the coming three-year spending period – the equivalent of £11.55 per capita. This increase would be modest in the context of the overall Northern Ireland budget - the Arts Council’s current budget is less than one third of one per cent of the existing health budget; or two thirds of one per cent of the education budget.

The Arts Council’s request per annum is approximately £9m and with the prospect of an additional uplift of only £500k for next year, the sector faces immediate financial problems. This draft settlement falls far short of the Arts Council’s assessment of need.

The increase makes some provision for the shortfall in National Lottery funding for the arts due to the redirection of funds by the Government to support the Olympic Games 2012. However, the Arts Council stands to lose £4.5m as a result of the redirection.

“The Arts Council has already been forced to close its Multi-Annual Programme, which supported 56 arts organizations and has also notified the district councils that they have become a low funding priority due to the need to protect independent arts organisations. The sector’s confidence is at an all time low”, said Arts Council Chief Executive, Roisin McDonough .

“The people of Northern Ireland should have the same cultural entitlement as their neighbours on these islands”, Ms McDonough continues. “Yet the prospect of achieving broad parity with our neighbours on these islands remains as distant as ever, and we remain consigned to the bottom of the UK and Ireland league table.”

Ms McDonough welcomed the capital commitment in the Draft Budget towards the completion of the Crescent Arts Centre, Lyric Theatre and Museum Arts Centre in Belfast. Responding to the programming needs of the new facilities will, however, place additional pressure on an already over-stretched arts budget.

“We currently have to turn down on average 60 per cent of applications annually from artists primarily due to lack of funds”, concluded Roisin McDonough. “If we are to stem the continuing decline, we urgently need to bring about an improved settlement for the arts through the public consultations on the Draft Budget.”

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