Business groups from across Northern Ireland have backed a petition against a £4.2m cut to the arts budget over four years.
Diageo, the Patton Group, Carson McDowell and Cleaver Fulton were among the those who pledged their support for the Fair Deal for the Arts NI campaign, which launched last week.
According to the chairman of the Arts Council NI, Rosemary Kelly, the cuts will have “grave consequences” with job losses and a reduction to vital frontline services, while having a “negligible” impact on the Northern Ireland deficit.
“The Northern Ireland budget is obviously facing enormous pressures, but all we are asking for is a fair deal for the local arts sector,” she said.
The chairman suggested investment in the arts could benefit the local economy by attracting investment.
“Public investment in the arts makes good business sense and a growing number of local businesses are recognising the significant benefits that the arts can bring to their organisation.
“In a competitive international marketplace, business leaders cite the presence of a rich cultural environment as one of the major incentives for locating their businesses.
“The arts are key to creating that environment and making Northern Ireland a location of choice for investors.”