A Thousand Cuts??

Community Arts Partnership has always delivered its projects and core support despite consistent pressures on budgets and available resources.

As a sector, community arts has always punched above its weight, achieving incredible participation figures, startling projects and programmes and tens of thousands of new creative recruits.

At a moment when public funding is being put under increasing pressure, and with the only ring-fenced budgets being the health and education portfolios, it seems that the time is fast approaching when the arts will see the teeth of this funding bite.

If budgets are to be cut, and it seems somewhat inevitable, it is all the more ironic that arts organisations supporting those most marginalised by economic, social, physical or intellectual circumstance, should see their budgets at risk, especially when that money is needed to pay a fine relating to Welfare Reform, a process that many user groups supported by community arts organisations oppose.

We hear daily, the upbeat economic assessment of UK government ministers and economists, yet locally we are met with cuts and the promise of less funding this year, next year, without any hope of this situation improving. The lights are going out. There’s a fine of £87,000,000, rising to £114,000,000 next year that our Finance Minister insists must be met. So, as we enter another period of uncertainty with public funding of services once again threatened with further cuts, what should we do, collectively?

For the arts community, which has seen the promise of stability and sustainability in long term funding, never quite materialise, it is worrying. In recent years, all exchequer funded organisations have shifted to support the twin ministerial initiatives of tackling poverty and social exclusion and promoting equality. At the forefront have been community arts organisations.

CAP has delivered the vast majority of its community programme either with groups from the most disadvantaged 20% of earners, or from those with physical or intellectual disability, or indeed with children and young people. Often, groups represent all of these circumstances. We support ethnic minority groups, and increasingly we are developing programmes for older people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

CAP will survive cuts, and struggle through next year with less again. But should the least disadvantaged be further penalised? Should priorities to protect such groups and initiatives not be looked at? Or should those who often receive the least, be forced to take less again?

artist forms link
New Belfast Community Arts Initiative trading as Community Arts Partnership is a registered charity (XR 36570) and a company limited by guarantee (Northern Ireland NI 37645).Registered with The Charity Commission as New Belfast Community Arts Initiative - NIC105169.