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Northern Ireland arts groups meet to plan survival bid amid cuts


Campaign: Conor Shields

Campaign: Conor Shields

Campaign: Conor Shields

Arts organisations fighting funding cuts in Northern Ireland are to discuss their strategy for survival in a meeting this afternoon.

Arts Matter NI represents a range of local groups and has been highly critical of cutbacks in the creative sector.

Meeting in the Grand Opera House in Belfast, the next step in its campaign and future strategy for the arts sector will be examined.

Last month the Arts Council of Northern Ireland announced funding of £13.1m for the sector in 2018/19 - a cut of 4.7%.

This meant reductions for 43 out of 100 groups who depend heavily on the money, with another seven having their funding stopped entirely.

Conor Shields, who is convenor of Arts Matter NI, said the creative industry in Northern Ireland was being "decimated" year after year.

"This is the largest, most representative campaign the arts have seen here. We are galvanising our representatives, looking to the future and developing our messages," he said.

In recent months the advocacy group has repeatedly clashed with the chair of the Arts Council, John Edmund, after he gave a speech suggesting the sector should diversify its funding sources and not rely as heavily on public handouts.

Belfast Telegraph