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Cuts to arts culturally and economically short-sighted

Contributions by colleagues in your article about the Arts Council's campaign to stop £1m cuts ('Just 13 pence a week for the arts makes us all richer', News, Nov 25) rightly illustrate the cultural and economic benefits to Northern Ireland society from public investment in the arts.

Moreover, at a time of continuing austerity and uncertainty, our communities look to artistic experiences for a non-material enhancement of their lives - for enlightenment as much as entertainment, away from their everyday problems and concerns.

The proposed £1m cut by the Northern Ireland Executive to the arts budget is both culturally short-sighted and economically imprudent.

The reasons for supporting the arts in NI are numerous: they make NI a better place to work and live in, our children need to know that we value the arts as well as more material things and experiencing culture is part of their growing up into citizens and, finally, a vibrant arts scene is vital for the health of our economy.

Instead of pursuing a false economy of reducing government spend on the arts, the real issue that the policy-makers in Stormont should be grappling with is identifying the steps that would put public investment in the arts back on the path to growth.

RICHARD WAKELY

Director, Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen's

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