Actor Rea Backs Fair Deal Campaign

Hollywood actor Stephen Rea makes arts funding plea to the First and Deputy First Ministers

Hollywood actor Stephen Rea made a plea to the Northern Ireland Executive this week to reconsider the severity of the proposed cuts to the arts as part of the Draft Budget 2011-2015.

As the public consultation drew to a close and the NIE began its talks to decide the final budget, the Irish actor added his name to the Fair Deal for the Arts NI Campaign and expressed his concern about the potentially devastating 23% cut proposed for the arts.

Well known for his roles in films such as The Crying Game, V for Vendetta, Interview with a Vampire and Michael Collins, Rea, in a letter to the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, asked the Stormont Government to consider how investment in the creative industries, and film in particular, had benefited the local economy and Northern Ireland’s image abroad.

'We should be proud of the successes of our creative industries, but we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that they are lifted and carried on the shoulders of the arts,' Rea commented.

'The actors, directors, script writers, lighting engineers, set designers, costume designers and make-up artists from Northern Ireland who have gone on to develop successful stage, film and TV careers, learned and developed their craft at local theatre venues. If it weren’t for the initial investment in our home-grown product and talent, so much opportunity would be lost to Northern Ireland.'

Rea is one of more than 4234 people to have so far signed up their support to the Fair Deal for the Arts NI Campaign. His letter joins hundreds of others submitted to the NIE by members of the public, arts organisations and public bodies opposing the disproportionately high £4.2million cut proposed for the arts budget.

'The public consultation may be over but the Fair Deal for the Arts Campaign will continue over the coming weeks as the NIE begins the process of deciding its final budget,' said Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

'The amount of money the NIE currently spends on the arts each year works out at less than the cost per person per year of two cinema tickets. For a tiny investment we get so much back – theatre, live music, festivals, nightlife – but also art in our communities, schools and hospitals.

'Art is at the heart of creating a positive international image for Northern Ireland and we want the NIE to remember that when deciding how it will allocate its budget over the next four years.'

In the closing remarks of his letter, Rea painted a bleak picture of how Northern Ireland would look without arts and culture at its centre: 'Arts and culture are the hallmarks of civilisation. If we fail to maintain our investment on our most valuable defining assets, we become impoverished as a place and as a people.'

To find out more about the Fair Deal for the Arts Facebook Campaign visit ‘fairdealfortheartsni’. Watch the Fair Deal for the Arts NI campaign videos at www.youtube.com/cultureni.

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