Belfast Telegraph

Arts sector gives £16.2m boost to economy despite recession

By Lindsay Fergus

The arts contributed £16.2m to the Northern Irish economy in 2009 despite the recession, it has emerged.

Audience Audit 2009 - produced by development agency Audiences NI - revealed that more households are attending the arts year on year.

The £16.2m contribution from the arts to the local economy represented an increase of 11% on the contribution of the previous year.

Yesterday's figures have been welcomed by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, whose commitment is to support and grow the sector by 15% by 2011.

Steven Hadley, CEO of Audiences NI said: "Audiences NI is delighted to have produced the Audience Audit 2009. The report offers further concrete evidence that the arts, and the secondary spend associated with attending an event, provide the Northern Irish economy with a growing and significant contribution.

"We will continue to track arts attendance, and the yearly Audience Audit will form an increasingly robust benchmark for comparison, strengthening the case for arts funding, and enabling arts organisations to more effectively target new audiences."

Roisin McDonough, chief executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland added: "These findings confirm the important contribution which the arts make to the Northern Ireland economy.

"The Arts Council and the government has invested heavily in providing a dedicated arts facility within 20 miles of every person living in Northern Ireland, enhancing our cultural tourism and aiding the regeneration of our towns and cities.

"However to truly capitalise on this investment, and to ensure the arts continue to flourish, adequate funding must be available for running and programming costs."