Are You Listening, Arts Council of Northern Ireland?

Huge numbers of artists, cultural organisations and users call for funding to be reinstated to Culture NI website – we hand over your views

Over 1,000 people in a week have responded to a public campaign against cuts that will close Northern Ireland’s leading arts and cultural website, Culture Northern Ireland.

The responses were handed over to the Director of Arts Development at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Noírín McKinney, by members of the Culture NI team and Limavady-based artist and Culture NI user, Francesca Sargent.

The website, which has been promoting Northern Ireland’s arts and cultural scene for the past decade, and is used by hundreds of thousands of people each year, will be forced to close after Arts Council of Northern Ireland cut its entire budget. The lose of funding has also put five digital content jobs under threat at the Nerve Centre in Derry~Londonderry.

David Lewis, director of Culture NI, said: ‘Since the announcement of this devastating cut, we’ve been overwhelmed with the level of support from the general public. Culture NI is evidently a thriving cultural hub driving arts attendance, ticket sales and cultural tourism, as well as promoting a positive image of NI abroad and social inclusion at home.

'Culture NI’s users, from Ireland north and south, UK, Europe and as far away as America and Australia, have spoken loudly and clearly, and we hope that the Arts Council of Northern Ireland will listen carefully to their compelling views.’

A number of high profile Northern Ireland artists have supported the #SaveCultureNI campaign, calling on the Arts Council to reinstate its support.

Artist Rita Duffy said: ‘To cut funding to Culture NI is not only a blow to the essential strategic activity of "informing" the global audience, but completely stupid short term trimming.'

Playwright Owen McCafferty also wrote: 'At a time when the arts needs to be promoted it is an act of lunacy to withdraw funding from the website at the heart of that promotion.' 

In his response ,composer Neil Martin said: ‘I have always found Culture NI to be a most effective vehicle for promoting and encouraging attendance at arts events. I know through my own experience that Culture NI’s promoting of events must have had an economic benefit, through tickets sales and the usual spend associated with attending an event. Why cut such a relatively small sum with such devastating consequences?’

Benefits of the website include:

  • Promoting arts and culture in Northern Ireland to 400,000+ users each year
  • ​500+ arts-related articles, reviews and competitions, written by 50 top contributors, each year
  • A What’s On listings service, with thousands of events across Northern Ireland, and curated events content.
  • Culture NI and Culture North West e-newsletters, containing the latest arts news and events, sent to more than 40,000 subscribers each week.
  • Social networks with more than 50,000 Facebook fans and Twitter followers, generating 20 million page impressions each year.
  • A proven driver of arts attendance, delivering ticket sales and new audiences with 67% of users having ‘attended an event’ after visiting the website.

User responses:

Without Culture NI I simply wouldn't have found out about many events that I have subsequently paid to see. If you cut Culture NI, you're cutting the chance for my hard-earned money to go into the arts.' Deirdre

'On many occasions I have visited NI as a direct result of reading information and events on Culture NI. It's a fantastic resource, both for locals and tourists and would be a sorry miss.' Sarah, Edinburgh

'Please don't shut down this resource! It brings together all the great things happening in NI and keeps citizens informed of positive news, reviews and cultural outputs. There is enough bad news out there... this is the one positive thing about NI that populates my inbox.' Jane