Musicians unite in chorus of concerns over cuts
Singer-songwriter Duke Special, composer Neil Martin and rock band the Wood Burning Savages, have all spoken out this week over proposed cuts to the arts budget in a series of videos.
Backing the Arts Council’s campaign to maintain the 13 pence per person per week currently spent on the arts here, Belfast-based musician Duke Special, called upon the Northern Ireland Executive to rethink before making any further cuts to the already fragile arts budget.
He said: “The arts are about expression and creativity and I think that in our society, in Northern Ireland, the arts can act, as a huge catalyst for change for challenging unhealthy behaviour, unhealthy practice. It can give us a sense of wonder. To me the arts add the colour into our society that is so desperately needed.”
Neil Martin, speaking in a specially-recorded video filmed at the Signature Theatre on Broadway, echoed these sentiments. He said: “I am here with Field Day Theatre Company in New York on Broadway with a play written by Sam Shepherd and if it were not for the subvention of the Arts Council we wouldn’t be here. Field Day’s whole existence started because of the Arts Council. So please at 13 pence per week let us make no more inroads into this miniscule amount of money that we get for the arts in Northern Ireland. Its one-thousandth of the entire budget which goes to the arts, it is tiny in the overall percentage. Let us not have a society which cannot benefit from the arts. Once that happens the world is over as we know it, so please, I urge those in power, let there be no more cuts.”
Derry-based band Wood Burning Savages won the UK City of Culture Award in 2013. They said further public cuts to the arts budget would have far-reaching effects across society: “In 2014 we had a busy year. We toured the UK and represented Northern Ireland on the BBC Introducing stage at Glastonbury 2014. This was done with the help of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland who have helped us in a few small but very meaningful ways.
“Severe cuts to the arts budget will have an effect on the employment, immigration and tourism sectors in Northern Ireland. Young people are already struggling to find reasons to stay here as it is and this will only make things much worse.”
The Arts Council has launched an online petition and is asking the public to sign it in support of no more cuts to the arts budget. Details of how you can sign the online petition, and write to the finance minister to oppose these cuts are available here. The public consultation closes on 29th December.