Belfast Telegraph

Cash cuts decision is 'disgusting' says writer

By Joanne Sweeney

Playwright and author Leesa Harker said she felt disgusted at the £82,200 cut by the Arts Council to Blackstaff Press' funding.

The Fifty Shades of Red, White and Blue author, whose play has been a sell-out hit in Melbourne, said: "This cut will mean that if someone like me comes along in the future, Blackstaff will probably not be in a position to take a risk on them. I think that this is a wrong decision. It's disgusting."

Ballymoney-born actress Jayne Wisener, who starred alongside Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, said she owes her success to Music Theatre 4 Youth. Now it is facing closure after it claimed it cannot survive following the Arts Council's cut of £35,500 to its core funding.

"I'm totally devastated to hear about the cuts. I feel the country will be losing out as so much of the talent will have to now leave to do what they want to do," she said. "I was involved with it 10 years ago when it first opened and it opened doors for me massively, and others. I wouldn't be here without it."

Playwright Martin Lynch, founder of Green Shoot Productions, branded the £78,000 funding cut to his company as "an absolute disaster" to its planned work over the next year.

"This means the loss of three part-time jobs and it's hard for me not to take this personal, that the Arts Council are basically telling me to go away," said Mr Lynch.

Author Desmond Doherty credited the success of his books to Guildhall Press picking up on his debut novel in 2013. They have now been optioned for screen development.

"That would not have happened without Guildhall Press," the solicitor said yesterday.

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