An actress has told how she has been forced to leave Northern Ireland due to a lack of arts funding and a dearth of good roles.
Kathy Kiera Clarke, who starred in Omagh, Bloody Sunday and Pulling Moves, said she was returning to London to find work following her latest stage role in the political satire Stormont.
The 39-year-old, who was nominated for an Irish Film and Television Award for her part in Bloody Sunday, said more investment was needed in local theatre, film and television to prevent the province’s creative industry from falling flat on its face.
The Belfast woman was speaking after an Ofcom report showed that the amount of homegrown television here has sharply declined. This week’s report showed a huge slump of 41% in regional investment in five years.
Kathy, who has a wealth of television, film and stage credits to her name, said: “I lived in London for about 10 years but came back home to work at the Abbey in Dublin and to do Bloody Sunday with Jimmy Nesbitt.
“But in the last few years the roles have dried up and even though there are a lot of American companies coming here to shoot, most of them bring their own cast with them.
“Michelle Fairley and Conleth Hill were lucky enough to get parts in HBO’s Game of Thrones, but they have had to work a lot in London too.
“I love living in Belfast, my family is here and, if the work was here, too I’d definitely stay. But the truth is, I’m having to go back to London to where the work is.
“The BBC programme Pulling Moves was very popular but it’s been a long time since there’s been something like that. Yet dramas like Five Minutes of Heaven prove that the cast and the crew are here. We just need the money.”
Kathy was booking her flight to London when she received a phone call offering her a role in Sean Crummey’s new comedy Stormont.
“I read the script and loved it. It’s very funny and I think we do that type of comedy well.”
Stormont, from the same producers of Dancing Shoes, will run at the Theatre at the Mill, Newtownabbey from September 15 to October 2.