Belfast Telegraph

Culture NI and Guildhall Press braced for job losses in wake of 'devastating' Arts Council funding cuts

By Donna Deeney

Job losses at Guildhall Press and Culture NI in Londonderry look inevitable after they saw their Arts Council funding slashed to zero.

Guildhall Press saw its funding go from £47,000 to nothing, and described the move as "baffling and very disappointing".

The head of Culture NI said its funding would plummet from £154,000 to £50,000 and the news was devastating.

Conal McFeeley is executive director of the Rath Mor Centre in Creggan where the Guildhall Press is based.

He said: "This community business has been a mainstay of the north west publishing industry for four decades. It has been responsible for conceiving and developing hundreds of books, pamphlets, eBooks and plays.

"It has connected with all corners of the world, it has launched careers, and it has become the city's number one custodian of history, literature and visual images.

"It has been a champion of the city community, showcasing its talents and creativity. It was one of the originators and mainstays of the City of Culture and, indeed, wrote the book on the year.

"The decision to cut all its core funding is both baffling and without justification. I would call on the Culture Minister, Cáral Ní Chuilín, to review this decision made by Arts Council NI."

Five digital content jobs at the Nerve Centre in Derry are at risk after funding to the award-winning Culture NI website was cut.

David Lewis, director of Culture NI, said: "For 10 years, Culture NI has been a flagship arts platform, showcasing all that is good about Northern Ireland's arts.

"With the increasing importance of digital marketing, the Arts Council's decision to cut the website is short-sighted and will simply limit further the public's access to event information."

"This devastating cut means the arts sector will lose a significant resource, which benefits hundreds of arts organisations and artists each year. We will be certainly challenging the Arts Council to justify this decision."

Culture NI has launched a campaign to save its website at www.culturenorthernireland.org

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