'Unfair' arts budget cuts condemned
More than £4 million will be lost from the arts budget if proposed spending cuts are introduced, it has been claimed.
The Arts Council said the cash reduction, inflation and additional pressure on the budget due to new venues scheduled to open soon meant its ability to support the work of artists and arts organisations will be severely constrained.
Culture minister Nelson McCausland said arts organisations in Northern Ireland are expected to benefit from an increase in Lottery funding over the next four years.
Arts Council chief executive Roisin McDonough said: "This is a bad day for arts and culture in Northern Ireland.
"All we ask for is a fair deal for the arts, but the arts sector is instead being asked to shoulder a disproportionate share of the public sector cuts."
She said £4.2 million would be lost from the budget from 2011-2015 if draft proposals go ahead.
Ms McDonough added spending on the arts was tiny compared to other departments, so any savings made by cutting the arts budget will make next to no difference to Northern Ireland's financial deficit.
"Yet these cuts will cause significant and potentially irreversible harm to the arts, putting jobs and front line services at risk," she warned.
Mr McCausland said Northern Ireland has seen unprecedented investment in the arts development over recent years.
"Sports and arts in Northern Ireland are expected to benefit from an increase in lottery funding over the next four years and this, together with the allocation we have received in the draft budget, will ensure that the people of Northern Ireland will continue to enjoy a good level of culture, arts and leisure provision given the difficult financial environment," he added.