The Executive has been urged to consider the positive economic returns generated by arts and culture before deciding on the arts budget after it emerged the sector generates £582m annually.
Roisin McDonough, chief executive of the Arts Council, said any reduction to the arts budget should be “fair and proportionate”.
She said creative industries were one of the fastest growing sections of the economy and the sector, which includes film, craft, digital media and publishing, employs over 33,000 people in Northern Ireland.
“Investment in our creative industries is generating high economic returns and there is the potential for more,” she said.
“With the decline in many traditional industries the source of our wealth, job creation and economic competitiveness is shifting to our creative sector.
“In order for the creative industries to continue to grow to match the rest of the UK, the Government needs to continue to invest and support the sector and its entrepreneurial people.
“Public spending on the arts in Northern Ireland each year is tiny compared with other Government departments. In terms of head of population it equates to less than the cost of two cinema tickets.
“A cut to that small investment will erode the very product upon which growth has been secured and cause irreparable damage.”
Belfast milliner Grainne Maher said Arts Council funding of £10,000 helped cover start-up costs for her business. “Without the grant my business could not have reached the stage that it has in such a short time,” she said.