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Culture so important to our lives


Seamus McGarvey

Seamus McGarvey

Seamus McGarvey

It is so worrying and disheartening to imagine that the proposed 50% cut to Northern Ireland Screen's funding will mainly affect Cinemagic, Belfast Film Festival, Queen's Film Theatre, the Nerve Centre and the Foyle Film Festival - all organisations with whom I have long-standing relationships.

I have seen some of the most stunning films at Foyle Film Festival and at Queen's Film Theatre, which have inspired me in my own work as a cinematographer.

Seeing young children excel and exploring their nascent imaginations under the auspices of Cinemagic (where I am a patron) is such a rewarding thing to witness.

The positive influence of all these organisations spreads far and wide, locally and internationally and must not be underestimated.

In this age of fiscal restraint, one of the easiest targets for spending cuts is the arts. However, economically, the powers-that-be are making a big mistake.

Culture is one of our most valuable natural resources and we are famous for it. Culture, in fact, in an unquantifiable way is one of Northern Ireland's greatest exports.

Culture is what helps hold us together as a people in all our diversity. It helps to tell us who we are and tell others, too.

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To become the creative, innovative and imaginative citizens in Northern Ireland's new phase, people need to willingly expose themselves to new ideas.

There would be nothing better for the political health of Northern Ireland than a vacation from parochialism which art provides.

In cinema and television and photography, which is my area, work from Northern Ireland has reached all over the world and been lauded and admired by millions.

Without a conscious realisation of the corrosion of our culture that will occur if these proposed cuts are implemented, the Government will soon see that it is not art and the artists of Northern Ireland who will suffer, but culture itself.

  • Seamus McGarvey is a professional cinematographer for films including High Fidelity, Atonement, Avengers Assemble and 50 Shades of Grey. To support the #SaveNIFilm campaign, complete the online form at http://objectnow.pgtb.me/R2bx7l by December 29

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