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MLAs unite to seek more arts funding

By Noel McAdam

Assembly members have united to demand "bottom of the pile" funding for the arts in Northern Ireland is increased to the United Kingdom average.

Their combined call came after MLAs were told cash support for the arts in the province is just £6.30 per head of population compared to £8.39 in England, £8.80 in Wales, and £11.93 in Scotland.

Arts spending in the province is also just half of that in the Irish Republic - £12.61, Alliance member Anna Lo said.

The Arts Council is facing a lottery projects reduction of £4.5m in the next few years, Ms Lo said, after three successive years of "standstill" funding because lottery cash is being reallocated to the 2012 London Olympics.

Meanwhile, Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Edwin Poots revealed he had not received the support of Ulster Unionist Ministers Sir Reg Empey and Michael McGimpsey.

He said the comments of Strangford MLA David McNarry, vice-chair of the Stormont committee which monitors his Department, about UU support for the arts was not "always reflected by his ministerial colleagues".

Mr Poots said he has asked within the Comprehensive Spending negotiations for Northern Ireland to be brought into line with other regions at a cost of £26m a year.

Newry and Armagh SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley said a vibrant arts sector could be linked to economic dynamism.

Belfast Telegraph


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