Northern Ireland Councils urged to step up to the mark and fund more arts
Councils in Northern Ireland have been urged to put their money where their mouth is and back the arts.
Up to £1.5m for arts and cultural programming is being offered to the 10 local councils outside of Belfast to participate - if they match the funding.
The Arts Council's Challenge Fund was launched yesterday.
Each council can apply for up to £150,000 if they can match it with new funding, in addition to what they already put towards their existing arts programmes.
Noirin McKinney, the director of Arts Development for the Arts Council, said the challenge is a way to improve and increase arts programmes across Northern Ireland in places that might not get as much funding. "The arts are seen as really important to local communities and the population in general in Northern Ireland. "
She added that urban areas tend to get more arts funding, but those programmes are needed in rural areas as well.
Communities Minister Paul Givan said the Challenge Fund is bringing the Arts Council and local authorities together.
"The arts are part of the lives of everyone in Northern Ireland but geography can be a barrier to participation in the arts," he said.
The Mid Ulster District Council is one of the first councils to receive £150,000 from the Challenge Fund for the Heaney HomePlace in Bellaghy.
Applications will be accepted until March 2017.