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Culture impacts on all of us, says minister

I read with interest Malachi O'Doherty's article in The Belfast Telegraph entitled 'School's Out for Culture' (Comment, July 28).

Last week I spoke at the opening of The John Hewitt Summer School in Armagh and was, therefore, rather bemused by Malachi's closing remark that I "should be in Armagh this week".

In my speech I said that I am very aware of the power of art and creativity to engage people of all ages and to enrich our lives and educate our people.

I believe there is so much more talent and creativity out there waiting to be unlocked, which Government is committed to nurturing and developing.

My department supports arts and creativity through the programmes of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and through the Creative Industries Innovation Fund. The John Hewitt Society received £18,000 through the Arts Council in 2010/11.

This shows a clear commitment by Government to delivering improvements in Northern Ireland's cultural infrastructure.

To summarise, Malachi stated that if I want to know how culture can make a difference to the economic vitality of our towns and cities, then I should go to a summer school.

In fact, I visited three summer schools last week and I have clearly demonstrated that I am fully aware of the impact that culture has on all our lives. I very much look forward to attending similar events in the future.

NELSON McCAUSLAND MLA

Minister of Culture

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