Belfast Telegraph

Actor Stephen Rea joins chorus imploring Stormont to save the arts

By Amanda Ferguson

Renowned Belfast actor Stephen Rea is the latest high-profile entertainment figure to back the No More Cuts To The Arts campaign.

The actor behind work such as The Crying Game, Michael Collins and V For Vendetta is supporting the Arts Council in its plea to maintain arts in Northern Ireland, something the body says costs just 13p per person per week.

The draft budget for Northern Ireland 2015-16 is out now for public consultation.

The document proposes a 10% cut to the budget for the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, putting popular cultural events and festivals in jeopardy.

They include the Ulster Orchestra, Belfast Festival at Queen's and Culture Night.

The Arts Council said this translates as an 11.2% cut to direct public funding for the arts, setting us back to finances implemented nearly a decade ago.

Currently Stormont invests just 13p per head of population per week in direct funding for the arts.

To put that into context, the annual arts budget would sustain the Health Service for less than one day.

Rea, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in The Crying Game in 1992, shared his thoughts from New York yesterday, where he is performing Particle Of Dread with Field Day Theatre Company. Rea acknowledged that it would not be performing in New York, and raising the profile of Northern Ireland internationally, if it weren't for public funding.

"Somewhere like New York, they don't have Arts Councils, they have philanthropists," he said.

"We don't have philanthropists, because we don't have big amounts of money.

"The Arts Council is essential for the arts to continue.

"It costs just 13p a week per citizen to fund, rather minimally, the work that the Arts Council does.

"It's vital that it continues to receive the support of the taxpayer."

Coleraine actor James Nesbitt, Community Arts Partnership, Arts & Business NI, and business leaders from Danske Bank, Diamond Corrugated and AES are also supporting the campaign.

Follow the No More Cuts To The Arts campaign on Twitter using #13pForTheArts and to make your voice heard before December 29, contribute to the public consultation by visiting http://www.northernireland.gov.uk/budget.

Factfile

What you can buy for 13p

  • Electrical fuse
  • Five minutes of on-street parking
  • 13 penny chews
  • A quarter of a cigarette
  • 1/20 of a takeaway latte
  • 1/2 metre of ribbon
  • A jingle bell or pompom from Craftworld
  • 1/4 of a second class stamp
  • Six hours of tv on your energy bill

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