Last week we informed members of proposed cuts to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland budget, and to organisations in its Annual Funding Programme.
Acting MU Regional Organiser for Scotland and Northern Ireland Sam Dunkley has now written to Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton Harris, as well as to the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Communities (which has responsibility for arts) and the Chief Exec of Arts Council of Northern Ireland to object to the cuts.
Writing on behalf of members, Sam has expressed the union's deep concern at the proposed budget reductions and calls for it to be maintained or increased to ensure that the culture sector, which makes such a vital contribution to the economy of Northern Ireland, is supported to grow and thrive in coming years.
Music is a crucial part of the creative economy of Northern Ireland
In the letter, Sam states how “Music is a crucial part of the creative economy of Northern Ireland, contributing to the wider night time economy in restaurants, bars, hotels and so on. The quality and vibrancy of the Northern Irish music scene is world renowned, constantly punching well above its weight, at the heart of the cultural identity of Northern Ireland.
“As well as the cultural and economic importance of music, there are overwhelmingly positive impacts on the mental health and wellbeing of participants in community music projects and the audiences of performances.”
We are concerned that these cuts will fall disproportionately on the most vulnerable in our sector
Sam also adds: “We are concerned that these cuts will fall disproportionately on the most vulnerable in our sector; the freelance and self-employed workforce on which many organisations and artforms rely, and work being created by, for and with those with disabilities and other marginalised groups.
“Whilst we understand that difficult decisions need to be taken in setting this budget, it would not be fair to punish the arts sector in Northern Ireland because The Northern Ireland Assembly is not sitting”.
As well as speaking at Unity’s rally in Belfast earlier this week, and urging members to sign their petition to reverse the cuts and fund the arts, the MU will continue to fight and update members on developments in the coming days.