Nine Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) have come out in support for Equity’s campaign to stop arts funding cuts in Northern Ireland.
The MLAs come from a broad section of the Assembly including the Alliance Party, SDLP, and People Before Profit. MLAs Peter McReynolds, Stewart Dickson, Paula Bradshaw, Naomi Long, Kate Nicholl, Andrew Muir, Gerry Carroll, Sinead McLaughlin, and Sian Mulholland have taken to social media to show their support.
This comes after the Northern Ireland Committee of Equity, the performing arts and entertainment trade union, delivered an open letter to Colum Boyle, the Permanent Secretary for the Department
for Communities last week. Members of the Committee and campaign supporters gathered outside the department on Friday 6 October to hand in the letter, written in response to a consultation on the impact Department cuts may have on vulnerable communities.
The letter states:
“The final Department report has been published this week. We recognise your confirmation that Arts Council NI funding has decreased, in real terms, by 30% over the last decade.
Therefore, despite that this year’s proposed 10% cut has manifested as a 5% cut, this is no comfort.
“We need more investment, not less to enable the sector to provide these valuable contributions and more to Northern Ireland’s communities… This should not have been your decision – all of our
petitioners ought to have been able to lobby their elected representatives and have a Minister determine the budget.”
Finally, the letter asks: “We are inviting our MLAs to hear this question and respond with their own answers, including: Who will stand up for the arts and pledge to reverse the cuts?”
You can read the letter in full here.
Stephen Beggs, Chair of Equity’s Northern Ireland Committee, said:
“We are not going to stop campaigning until the decision-makers holding the purse-strings show they understand how valuable the arts are – to employment, enjoyment and equality – by investing in the
Alice Adams Lemon, Equity’s NI Official, said:
“Equity has been and continues to show its campaigning strength across the UK – it has had to these recent months – and nowhere
more vocally than in Northern Ireland where investment in the arts is the least per capita of anywhere else on these islands. The difference is, here we have no Minister to lobby. We need our MLAs to stand up and show their solidarity so when they return to Stormont, we
and the wider community know who the allies for the arts actually are and which MLAs have an interest in the cultural lives and well-being of their constituents.”
Sian Mulholland, the Assembly Party Group Chairperson for the All Party Group on Arts, said on social media:
“I said it before when I attended the delivery of a petition a
few months ago to the Department. We need more investment in the arts, not less. We need a working government and a Minister to push for investment. The Arts are not a hobby, they are so much more. Proud to support.”