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Personal Stories: Budget cuts could erase decades of arts success

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Literary manager Emily DeDakis on the ArtsMatterNI campaign

Literary manager Emily DeDakis on the ArtsMatterNI campaign

Literary manager Emily DeDakis on the ArtsMatterNI campaign

Emily said: "When I moved here to study creative writing, I thought I'd be staying 10 months. Next September I will have lived here for a decade.

"I chose Belfast over Los Angeles, and despite the bloody weather, rightly so. The scene is vibrant and generous, full of smarts and a DIY attitude, just like the city.

"I've run creative writing workshops with women's groups, young people, ex-prisoners, refugees and asylum-seekers. With Accidental Theatre I've developed dozens of plays, thrown two 15-minute theatre festivals at the Ulster Hall and started an annual 24-hour plays project. The arts helped me feel at home and gave me a place.

"But no one can live on thin air and good wishes. Self-employed artists in Northern Ireland make, on average, below £6,000 per year. Less than 1% of the NI budget goes to this sector, and further cuts could erase decades of thrilling, inclusive hard work.

"The #ArtsMatterNI campaign is sharing the reality of what the arts gives and does - but also what it needs.

"Artists are absolutely performers, writers, illustrators, designers, etc. We're also active citizens, parents, politicians, educators, health and social workers, job-generators and economy-drivers. We create places and events that transcend single communities and narrow agendas.

"Far from being a luxury we can't afford, the arts community contributes beyond its means to public health and education.

"Society's collective wellbeing is worth our investment."

Visit artsmatterni.co.uk


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