In their response to the letter written on behalf of the MU by Acting Regional Organiser for Scotland and Northern Ireland Sam Dunkley, Arts Council Northern Ireland have given assurance that they are on the same page. They stated:
“The Arts Council has been making these very points, backed up with substantial and more detailed evidence, directly to the Department for Communities at every opportunity.
“This has included regular meetings with colleagues in arts branch, to the Permanent and Deputy Secretaries, to Ministers when that opportunity is available, and most recently to the US Special Envoy to NI Joe Kennedy .We have requested a meeting with the Secretary of State and have corresponded with him on the case for the arts.”
They added their hopes that “the petition and the voice of the sector adds to the gravity of the situation we are collectively facing.”
Further reduced funding will mean jobs are likely to be lost
On reading the response, Sam commented that Arts Council Northern Ireland’s words are encouraging, but urgent action is needed:
“Both Arts Council Northern Ireland and the Department of Communities have emphasised the value of arts and culture to the community and the economy. Whilst we are encouraged by their words, without appropriate funding it will be a very difficult time for music and musicians in Northern Ireland.
“Arts Council Northern Ireland funding has remained at standstill since 2018-19 and the impact assessment from the Department of Communities sets out very clearly that jobs are likely to be lost, and venues are likely to close, if funding is further reduced.
“We continue to urge the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to engage meaningfully and find more sustainable solutions.”
The union is deeply concerned about the proposed budget reductions
The original letter to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland expressed the union's deep concern at the proposed budget reductions and called for it to be maintained or increased to ensure that the culture sector is supported to grow and thrive in coming years.
In the letter, Sam also highlighted the crucial role that music plays in Northern Ireland’s economy, cultural identity, and promotion of wellbeing.
Alongside the written letter, Sam gave a speech at a Rally in Belfast against the cuts making similar points.
Sign Equity’s petition to reverse the cuts and fund the arts.