Statement from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland dated: 24th September 2020
The Arts Council welcomes news from the NI Executive that £29m has been allocated to help the arts and cultural sectors in Northern Ireland endure the Covid-19 pandemic.
There have been devastating financial consequences for all working in and around the arts because of venue closures, the restrictions of social distancing placed on audiences and staff, and the massive loss of earned income since lock-down began.
We are heartened to see that the majority of the funding announced today is aimed at helping our core arts and cultural organisations, as well as artists and creative practitioners, get through this crisis to year-end, in the hope we can press a reset button and open our venues, festivals and cultural activities safely to the public as quickly as possible.
However we must also consider how government funding can help renew our fragile arts ecosystem beyond this financial year, through a programme of strategic reinvestment.
It is our hope that future reinvestment by government will strengthen the resilience of this important sector over the next few years and provide our arts and cultural organisations with resources to develop innovative, creative ways to bring great arts to all, be that digitally, outdoors, in-person or through live performance.
We thank the Minister and her Department for their help in making the case to government that our arts and culture infrastructure is of value to Northern Ireland and is worth saving.
The Arts Council provided a carefully researched bid to the Department for Communities which evidenced the devastating impact of Covid-19 on the sector and offered expert advice on how to both mitigate against permanent damage to an arts and cultural sector that is of considerable value to our economy, and how to sustain and renew that sector beyond the pandemic.
We also recognise the campaigning efforts of the many arts organisations, artists and audience members, including MLA’s and many commercial and cultural business leaders, who took the time to speak up and convey the message of how important a strong arts and culture ecosystem is to our society in Northern Ireland.