Help Save NI Arts

The Invest In Inspiration campaign for increased arts funding in NI

 Invest In Inspiration features in the CultureNorthernIreland podcast

Invest In Inspiration
The Invest In Inspiration campaign is calling on members of the public to help in the fight for increased arts funding in NI.

Currently hamstrung on £6.13 per capita, less than half that of the other UK countries and the Republic of Ireland, the arts sector in NI is in desperate need of public support in it's struggle for financial parity.

By signing Invest In Inspiration postcards - available in arts venues across the country - and sending them to the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, or by clicking on the Invest In Inspiration logo at the top of this page, YOU can help arts sector leaders increase pressure on members of the new Assembly and ensure a future for the arts in NI.

Ali Fitzgibbon, Director of the Belfast Children's Festival, believes that increased levels of subsidy are essential if the arts in NI are to survive.

The Belfast Community Circus School at the Invest In Inspiration rally'We’re not going to be here in another few years if the funding situation doesn’t change.'

The Invest In Inspiration rally and petition at Writer's Square, Belfast, addressed the funding crisis that threatens the arts sector in NI and the future of many cultural institutions, events and projects.

Arts funding in NI has traditionally lagged behind England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland with NI investing only £6.13 per head of population, compared with England (£8.39), Wales (£9.17), Scotland (£11.93) and the Republic of Ireland (£12.61).

The campaign rally follows a call from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for newly-appointed Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Edwin Poots, to increase arts funding to £10 per capita.

The rally, attended by artists, campaigners and sector leaders, was introduced by Fitzgibbon.

‘Arts organisations and artists are an integral part of this society,' she said.

'We contribute to it, we hold a mirror up to it, we pose questions of it, we challenge it and we help to make connections with the outside world. We’re not going to be here in another few years if the funding situation doesn’t change.'

Lagan Valley Assembly member Poots is urged to bring arts funding in NI in line with the rest of the UK after a funding freeze which has been in place since 2004.Invest In Inspiration rally

Speakers at the campaign rally highlighted the importance of the arts in the economic, social, health and education sectors.

'For years community arts has been making a real difference to people’s lives,' said Heather Floyd of the Community Arts Forum.  

'We help communities to address issues such as racism, sectarianism, unemployment, social exclusion, suicide and the environment.

'This funding climate, coupled with the London Olympics £7 million raid on arts lottery funding, is not just short changing the arts, but every community that wants to exercise their right to have access to arts and cultural activity.

'We call on everyone to support the Invest in Inspiration campaign. An increase to £10 per person will mean that the arts and the communities they serve have the opportunity to meet their artistic and creative potential.'

A steady decline in Lottery funding for the arts has continued amidst an increase in applications from arts organisations. Applications to the Lottery arts funding programme amounted to more than £6.5 million with funding of only £1.5 million available.

The call for increased funding follows an address from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland at the House of Commons, in which parliamentarians pledged to push for more realistic investment in the arts in NI.

Speaking at the rally, NI artist Dan Gordon highlighted the importance of increased funding for everybody in the province.

Dan Gordon addresses the crowd at Writer's Square'It’s about the consumer. It’s about the people out there who get home from work, have to get the kids sorted out, and might want to go to an art gallery or a music performance,' he said.

'The message here today is to keep it simple. The figure of £6 [per capita] is a good starting point, but we deserve at least £10. We’re not looking for £9.99, we want £10. This is not a budget.

'We need to get these postcards filled in, we need to get them to the people, and we need to send them to the Minister of Arts and Leisure, Mr Poots. We need to get the message out to him. Hopefully we’ll get some results.'

A spokesman from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure told CultureNorthernIreland:

'Funding per capita for the arts in Northern Ireland is lower than in other regions of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has recently submitted to the Minister a detailed and well argued case for increased funding for the arts in the context of the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review for the period 2008/09 to 2010/11.

'Negotiations on the new budget are still at an early stage and it is expected that the new devolved administration will take the final decision on this.'

Economic Benefits
For every £1 invested in the arts in NI, a return of over £3.60 flows back into the local economy. Events funded by the Arts Council, like the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, can play a huge part in the further development the NI tourist industry.

Social Benefits
Tracy Gallogly is an artist who has worked extensively with cross community groups such the Community Arts Forum and the New Belfast Community Arts Initiative. Read more about the social benefits of public art.

Health Benefits
Andrea Spencer is Artist-In-Residence at Belfast City Hospital, specialising in glassware. She is one of many NI artists working on behalf of Arts Care, a unique arts charity that seeks to make the arts accessible to patients, residents and staff in healthcare settings. Read more about the health benefits of visual art.

Education Benefits
David Campbell is Artist-In-Residence with the Verbal Arts Centre, a charity resource and education facility in Derry. Read more about the education benefits of visual and linguistic art.