Nelson McCausland’s Department of Social Development has decided to end its Laganside Events funding for the Cathedral Quarter and surrounding area.
Lots of money is being pumped into the new MAC, which opens in April. Great. But one posh building can’t sustain the level of visitors and the diversity that the range of festivals normally happening in that area can.
Badly affected by this announcement are the Out to Lunch Festival, Festival of Fools, Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Culture Night and the Black Box, to name a few.
These are the very events that make Belfast the vibrant place that visitors want to experience. They’re relatively cheap or free. They just about epitomise everything that the Programme for Government states as its aim for the arts here.
Yes, people might pour in for the opening of the Titanic building this year, but if there’s nothing happening around that area, they’ll come and then they’ll go away quickly.
Creative arts isn’t about a “bunch of luvvies putting on plays’’, as some narrow-minded online commentators say. It’s about imagination, fun, inclusivity and opening up.
If it’s not funded, the Cathedral Quarter will sink and all we will have left is an anniversary commemoration of yet another great thing to come out of Belfast and be ruined by short-term thinking.