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Arts Council in desperate bid to head off 20% in cuts

By Cate McCurry

Published 27/10/2015

Sports Minister Caral Ní Chuilin
Sports Minister Caral Ní Chuilin

The Arts Council has made a last-ditch appeal to have further cuts quashed as the sector struggles to shoulder a £4m loss.

The body is already facing an under-pressure budget, and the latest cuts will see a funding blow of 20% this year alone.

It said a discussion it had with Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin that spelled out in detail the detrimental impact the cuts would have on the sector was "open and frank".

A spokesman for the organisation added that it used the meeting to express its dismay at the Sinn Fein MLA's decisions.

But the minister responded that the cuts were a result of pressures "coming from the Conservative Government".

Among those who attended the meeting was Arts Council chief executive Roisin McDonough and a number of board members, including chair Bob Collins.

Mr Collins detailed the "extraordinary quality of work" produced by arts organisations throughout Northern Ireland and handed over a comprehensive dossier of evidence detailing that contribution.

The Executive's investment in the arts, made in the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure's annual grant to the Arts Council, has fallen by around a quarter in four years, from £14m to £10m.

"We have presented the minister with a dossier of hard evidence supporting our belief in the exemplary contribution that the arts organisations that we support are making to people and communities across Northern Ireland," said Mr Collins.

"This includes the Executive's social and economic targets and, notably, the minister's own priorities in respect of promoting equality, tackling poverty and social exclusion."

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