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MU Calls for Newly Restored Assembly in Northern Ireland to Address Arts Funding Imbalance

As public funding for the arts in Northern Ireland remains low against the rest of the UK and Republic of Ireland, MU Acting Regional Organiser Sam Dunkley has written to parties at Stormont urging them to consider the urgent need for investment.

Published: 06 February 2024 | 4:45 PM
Aerial view of Stormont Parliament buildings.
For too long Northern Ireland has been poorly served by public funding for the arts. Image credit: Shutterstock.

The MU is pleased that the Northern Ireland Assembly is sitting and the Executive is restored. It is an important moment for the people of Northern Ireland and it is right that decision making power is back with elected Ministers rather than sitting with Civil Servants, who have been forced to take decisions on funding and services since May 2022.

Amongst the competing priorities facing the Executive, it is important that the Minister for Communities recognises the importance of the arts and culture to Northern Ireland, and works with his colleagues across the Executive to address the historic funding imbalance between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

For too long Northern Ireland has been poorly served by public funding for the arts, with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) receiving just £5.07 per capita, in comparison to £10.51 in Wales and £21.58 per capita in the Republic of Ireland.

The 5% cut imposed on ACNI last year was damaging and put further pressure on artists and arts organisations in the midst of an ongoing cost of living crisis.

MU in action

Last week Sam Dunkley, MU Acting Regional Organiser for Scotland and Northern Ireland, wrote to the leaders of the five largest parties at Stormont, urging them to consider the urgent need for investment in the arts and culture sector as part of their ongoing work.

He has also written to Gordon Lyons MLA, who was appointed Minister for the Department of Communities on 3 February. Below is the ask from Sam in each of the letters.

I write on behalf of our members to urge you to address the funding needs of ACNI, cultural organisations across the nation, and the Education Authority Music Service to ensure that the people of Northern Ireland can access arts and culture.

We ask that you choose to use some of the money for a restored Assembly to ensure the culture sector, which makes such a vital contribution to the economy of Northern Ireland, is supported to grow and thrive in coming years.

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