NI arts funding crisis

28th March 2007

The Stage reports there will be a crisis in arts funding in Northern Ireland from 2008 to 2011 unless at least £23.5 million is injected into the NI Arts Council’s budget. The funding body discovered last week that it is going to lose £4.5 million in lottery money to the 2012 Olympics.

Chief executive Roisin McDonough told The Stage she questioned whether the government valued the arts in Northern Ireland as much as elsewhere in the UK. The region has the lowest per capita funding of all the arts councils, at £6.13 compared to £11.93 in Scotland and £8.14 in England. The requested increase would bring its spend up to £10.70.

McDonough added: “Our original forecasts were made before this latest bombshell hit. Over the last ten years, there has been chronic underfunding of the arts in Northern Ireland, and in the last few years funding has been frozen. This loss is coming on top of all the other underfunding and it is very serious. Our theatre sector in particular is small but it is a very important, vibrant part of our infrastructure and it needs to be resourced properly. We haven’t been able to do that.

“You’ve only got to look at the fact the Lyric, our principle rep, struggles every year and at the moment has a £4.6 million shortfall in the funding it needs to get its new theatre, which is absolutely crucial for the whole development of theatre in Northern Ireland.”

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