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Stars of the arts world add support to ‘no more cuts’ campaign

Friday 5th December 2014 at 12am 0 Comments Acquisitions , Architecture , Arts & Disability , Arts & Health , Arts and Older People , Building Peace through the Arts: Re-Imaging Communities , Circus & Carnival Arts , Community Arts , Craft , Dance , Drama , Film & TV , Intercultural Arts , International Arts , Language Arts , Literature , Northern Ireland Music , Public Art , Traditional Arts , Visual Arts , Voluntary Arts , Youth Arts

Critically acclaimed actor Stephen Rea has called on the public to support the Arts Council's campaign for No More Cuts to the Arts Image: Critically acclaimed actor Stephen Rea has called on the public to support the Arts Council's campaign for No More Cuts to the Arts

International stars of stage and screen have added their names to the Arts Council campaign calling for ‘no more cuts to the arts budget’. 

‘Rocky’ actress Geraldine Hughes, internationally acclaimed pianist Barry Douglas, and distinguished actor Stephen Rea are among those who have made personal pleas to the Northern Ireland government to maintain the current level of arts provision - just 13 pence per person per week. Other high profile names to have come out in support this week include writers Carlos Gebler, Owen McCafferty and Martin Lynch, and singer-songwriter Gareth Dunlop. 

In a letter submitted to the Northern Ireland Executive in response to the draft budget, West-Belfast born actress Geraldine Hughes, who recently appeared alongside Clint Eastwood in ‘Gran Torino’, wrote: “A wise person once said, ‘Economics are how we live and the arts are WHY we live’. I am writing to you as a concerned artist, who was born and raised in Northern Ireland. Without access to the arts, I may not have survived, never mind thrived in this life. It is an extremely important part of our society and without it we wouldn't have the enormously successful Game of Thrones for example, which is a huge source of revenue for Northern Ireland at the moment and for years to come. Do not underestimate the need for this to remain a crucial part of the budget. It is a tiny fraction that cannot afford to be cut any further. The repercussions of that would be just devastating.”

Classical pianist, conductor Barry Douglas, also gave his support this week. Speaking in a special campaign video, the Camerata Ireland Director highlighted the contribution the arts make to all our lives: “The value of arts in society is enormous and it means a lot of jobs, it means social cohesion, it means education and we can’t turn our back on the arts, we have to keep funding them at a consistent level, and all it costs is 13 pence per person per week to fund the arts here in Northern Ireland. Let’s do it.”

Word of the campaign has now stretched beyond Northern Ireland, as Oscar-nominated actor Stephen Rea, best-known for his role in The Crying Game, made a heart-felt plea for the Northern Ireland Executive to make no more cuts to the arts budget. Speaking from New York, where he is currently performing in Field Day Theatre Company’s ‘A Particle of Dread’, Rea acknowledged that they could not be performing in New York, and raising the profile of Northern Ireland internationally, if it weren’t for public funding.

He added: “Somewhere like New York, they don’t have Arts Councils, they have philanthropists. We don’t have philanthropists, because we don’t have big amounts of money. The Arts Council is essential for the arts to continue. It costs just 13p a week per citizen to fund, rather minimally, the work that the Arts Council does. It’s vital that they continue to receive the support of the tax payer.”

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. An online version can be accessed here, or to download the advocacy toolkit prepared in support of the campaign please click here. 

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