Belfast Telegraph

Arts sector wins business backing to fight cash cuts

By Clare Weir

Northern Ireland business leaders have thrown their weight behind the arts sector and a new deal aimed at fighting proposed budget cuts.

Key figures attending the BBC’s Blackstaff Studio to celebrate the Allianz Arts and Business NI Awards have added their names to the Fair Deal for the Arts petition.

Representatives from construction firm Patton, drinks giant Diageo and law firms Carson McDowell and Cleaver Fulton Rankin were among those who pledged their support for the campaign, which is calling on the Northern Ireland Executive to reconsider the proposed £4.2m cut to the arts budget.

Supporters point to research which |has shown that the sector contributes £582m to the Northern Ireland economy annually and supports more than 33,000 jobs.

The Fair Deal for the Arts NI campaign, launched last week, is protesting against the scale of the arts cuts. Including inflation, the arts sector is set to lose 23% of its budget, which could see jobs slashed and frontline services reduced.

Alan Stewart, Patton Group marketing manager, said: “The arts play such a vital role within the local community, which in turn enriches so many lives,” he said.

“It is imperative that we look to protect this important sector.”

Mary Trainor-Nagele, director of Arts & Business, said many businesses in Northern Ireland invest in, and partner with, the arts, while Rosemary Kelly OBE, chairman of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, thanked the many businesses who have lent their support to the campaign.

“In a competitive international marketplace business leaders cite the presence of a rich cultural environment as one of the major incentives for locating their businesses,” she said.

Belfast Telegraph