Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody welcomes Arts Council’s ambitious new 10-year Strategy

8th May, 2024

Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody has led the endorsements for the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s 10 Year Strategic Plan. The document sets out the Arts Council goals and ambitions for the next decade and outlines a new way forward for the organisation, detailing its new Mission, Vision and Values.

Liam Hannaway, Chairperson, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Karly Greene, Director of Strategic Development & Partnerships, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Gary Lightbody, and Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Gary Lightbody, who spoke at the event, alongside Charlotte Dryden, CEO of the Oh Yeah Music Centre, spoke of imagining a world without the arts saying, “The feeling I get sometimes when I speak to politicians is that art is a luxury, art is extra, a societal appendage, something frivolous. No-one’s ever said to me in so many words, but the intimation is that art is something we will have time and money for once we fix everything else.

He continued, “Picture the best life for yourself and now from that great canvas of your best imaginable life that you’ve painted in your mind, take away music, take away poetry and prose, remove dance and dancing, and theatre and film, get rid of all the great towering works of art carved into sculpture or canvas, erase all the arts from that picture of your perfect life; how close to perfect is it now?

So while I agree that art is not essential for survival, it is essential for the survival of the soul. Our best days are made better with music, our worst days are made better with music. To do right by our people, their mental health, their hearts, their souls, art is not something society can afford to neglect.”

Also in attendance were representatives from across government, business and the arts, who gathered to hear the Arts Council outline how it will develop the arts sector through investment and advocacy.

Arts Council Chair Liam Hannaway, outlined the organisation’s vision for the next decade, saying: 

“We have consulted more widely than ever before, and listened carefully to feedback over the last eight months. The Arts Council’s strategic plan for 2024-2034 is an ambitious, but realistic, long-term roadmap. It charts six outcomes and 10 priorities that will help us achieve our vision – a vision of a society where all people can experience a thriving arts sector that is recognised as essential to creativity, well-being and social and economic prosperity.
“We need to ensure we have an arts sector that is valued publicly by leaders and decision-makers across NI and internationally. The Arts Council will use our expertise to support the thousands of artists and arts organisations across NI, to invest, advocate and evidence the positive impacts of the arts sector, socially, culturally and economically across NI.”

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added:

“This strategy outlines our mission to develop and champion the arts in NI through investment and advocacy. It states our commitment to supporting artists, promoting inclusivity and diversity, fostering collaboration, and ensuring that the arts are accessible to all.
“If we are to fulfil our strategic ambitions and establish a more financially stable arts sector we do need to find additional investment - we hope the Minister will listen, and help open doors across government to allow the arts to contribute to the delivery of wider Programme for Government outcomes, as many of our artists do already in the areas of health, cultural tourism and the economy.
“Our artists contribute so much to society in return for a comparatively small amount of exchequer funding, think how much more we can do over the next ten years with more strategic support. Over the coming decade, with the Arts Council’s Strategic Plan 2024-34, we can build a brighter, more vibrant, and more culturally rich Northern Ireland.”

To develop the strategy an intense period of consultation was undertaken by the Arts Council. Some 162 responses were received via an on-line survey and a further nine stand-alone written submissions were received on behalf of organisations, arts organisations, public bodies, private sector, and the public (171 total). Three quarters of responses came from three categories: artists (30%), arts and arts resource organisation (28%) and member of the public, currently engaged in the arts (20%).

To read the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Strategic Plan (2024-2034) Championing the Arts – Investing in the next 10 years visit