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The Big Arts Debate at Stormont

Monday 19th February 2018 at 4pm 0 Comments

Pictured are Dr Jenny Elliott, Arts Care, Nisha Tandon, Chief Executive, ArtsEkta, Conor Shields, Community Arts Partnership, Bill Wolsey, MD of Beannchor and Roisin McDonough, Chief Exceutive,Arts Council Northern Ireland. Image: Pictured are Dr Jenny Elliott, Arts Care, Nisha Tandon, Chief Executive, ArtsEkta, Conor Shields, Community Arts Partnership, Bill Wolsey, MD of Beannchor and Roisin McDonough, Chief Exceutive,Arts Council Northern Ireland.

Representatives from the arts sector in Northern Ireland gathered at Stormont today with business leaders and public sector representatives in a bid to bring the Big Arts Debate to the attention of MLAs and decision-makers. The debate centred on the value of the arts to the economy, to society and to the health and wellbeing of citizens in Northern Ireland. The #BigArtsDebate was sponsored by Mike Nesbit, MLA, UU and Claire Hanna, MLA, SDLP and was held at Parliament Buildings, Stormont on Monday 19th February.

The Big Arts Debate was held in response to the draft NI Budget for 2018/19 which forecasts that the arts sector will face further cuts, of up to 8%, on an already diminished baseline budget which has shrunk by 30% in the last five years alone.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland commented, “We want to thank Mike Nesbitt and Claire Hanna for creating this opportunity for local artists and arts organisations to highlight at Stormont the contribution that the arts are making to the achievement of government priorities such as the economy, health and wellbeing, society and education. For a sector that’s contributing to the generation of £151 million GVA every year to the local economy, that gives a voice to vulnerable people, and is a key player in bringing our communities closer together, I think we have shown today that government’s small investment in the arts is yielding big returns for everyone.”

Leading business entrepreneur, Bill Wolsey, Managing Director of Beannchor, one of the largest independent owner/operators of bars, pubs, restaurants and night clubs in Ireland, added, “Tourism is one of the largest growth sectors in Northern Ireland and the arts play a huge part in why people visit the region, how long they stay and why they return.  The arts create jobs, generate bed nights and spend, significantly enriching our economy.  It is absolutely critical that we invest properly in our arts sector.”

Dr Jenny Elliott, Chief Executive, Arts Care, an Arts Council of Northern Ireland supported organisation that works in partnership with Health and Social Care Trusts throughout the region bringing the arts into care settings, added, “The arts are critical to health and wellbeing and can strategically and practically support the wider government and local councils drive to enhance the health of the citizens of Northern Ireland.  We need champions at government level for the arts and support for the expert creative workforce that we have developed through the expertise and creativity of our professional artists.”

Research shows that,

  • The total NI arts budget for the year would run the Department of Health for 17 hours, the Department of Education for 2 days and the Department of Justice for 3.5 days
  • The total annual per capita arts spending on the arts is the lowest on these islands, at £5.28 with wales spending £10.03 and the Republic of Ireland spending £12.79
  • 0.1% of the overall budget for Northern Ireland goes to the arts
  • The creative industries is one of NI’s major sources of job creation, wealth and competitive strength
  • 44,000 are employed in the creative industries with £970m Gross Value Added to the local economy
  • 6,352 are employed in the Northern Ireland arts and culture sector with £151m Gross Value Added to the local economy
  • 4,809 volunteers help to run 107 annually funded arts organisations
  • On Culture Night Belfast 2017 there were 325 FREE family-friendly events which attracted 100,000 visitors that generated a £2.5m spend

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