Hollywood director Paul Greengrass joins campaign to protect Northern Ireland's 'inspiring' arts centre
Hollywood director Paul Greengrass and Radio 1 DJ Phil Taggart have said budget cuts in the arts will have a devastating impact on Londonderry's Nerve Centre media hub education programmes.
This comes after the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) asked Northern Ireland Screen to prepare for its budget next year to be slashed from £1.9m to £1m.
Campaigners have said the near 50% cut to NI Screen's budget "will devastate" the Nerve Centre and also impact on Cinemagic, Belfast Film Festival, the Queen's Film Theatre and CultureTECH, among others.
The Nerve Centre's Foyle Film Festival, INTO Film Clubs and Film Education programmes are all said to be in jeopardy.
BAFTA-winning director Greengrass, the man behind films such as Bloody Sunday, Captain Phillips and the Bourne Supremacy, visited Derry last year as part of its City of Culture celebrations and was inspired by the work of the Nerve Centre.
He said the proposed funding cuts will damage the blossoming creative industry here.
"The vibrancy, creativity, commitment, inventiveness, and sheer scale of the cultural activity taking place in Derry - particularly among young people - was to me breathtaking and inspiring," Mr Greengrass said.
"Those of us who have had the privilege to be welcomed to Derry and have seen this wonderful city emerge from dark days to stand as a beacon of hope, not just for our country but for Europe and far beyond, can only register the strongest protest at the extent of the proposed cuts to the Education and Film sector in Northern Ireland.
He praised our burgeoning filmmaking industry, saying Northern Ireland is now "an established fixture in the international movie landscape - a place to come and make films, sustained by boundless local talent and ingenuity".
"But we are only at the beginning of the journey to what can be achieved here in terms of jobs and creative opportunities for the next generation," he added.
"We must protect what has been built. And we must continue to develop it."
Phil Taggart said: "Northern Ireland is going back to the stone age. There are proposals to cut 50% of the funding to the Nerve Centre in Derry.
"Take literally 60 seconds of your time and go and sign the campaign petition via www.nervecentre.org."