The State and the Arts

Why the arts matter to Northern Ireland

Invest in Inspiration
You can email or send a letter in support of increased funding for the arts to, most importantly, the Minister for Finance and Personnel, Mr Peter Robinson MP MLA; the Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Mr Edwin Poots MLA; your own MLA; the editor of your local newspaper. The contact details of the Ministers are listed below.

Mr Peter Robinson MP MLA
Minister for Finance and Personnel
Department of Finance and Personnel
Craiganlet Buildings
Stoney Road
Belfast BT4 5SX

Tel: 028 9185 8111

Mr Edwin Poots MLA
Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure
Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure

Tel: 028 9025 8825

The arts make a major contribution to the NI economy:

• The arts economy in NI is worth almost £30 million per annum, with over £12 million being generated annually in earned income.

• The return on public investment is considerable, with every £1 of public money invested by the Arts Council generating a return of £3.62 to the local economy.

• Increased public funding for the arts would result in a similar multiplier effect, increasing the value of its return to the wider local economy.

The arts and the creative industries are significant employers:

• The creative industries in NI employ 33,567 people, or 4.6 per cent of the workforce. This is more than many of the traditional mainstays of employment in NI, including Agriculture.

• A survey of the Arts Council’s Regularly Funded Organisations (RFOs) shows that 2095 individuals were employed either in a full or part time capacity. Many more are employed on a full, part time or voluntary basis in other arts organisations not measured through the RFO.

• With investment, the potential exists for greater expansion of the creative industries in NI, as the average employment in the creative industries across Great Britain is considerably higher, at 6.8 per cent, equating to one million jobs and a further 790,000 creative jobs in other industries.

The arts generate inward investment and increased tourism:

• In a competitive international marketplace, business leaders cite the presence of a rich cultural environment as one of the major incentives for locating their businesses. Our flagship projects, such as the Lyric Theatre and the Ulster Orchestra, play a part in creating that environment, making Northern Ireland a location of choice and attracting direct investment in the economy.

• The arts play a significant role in the rapidly growing tourist market - presenting a positive image of the region as a “must see” destination and providing the wide range of cultural and entertainment activities for visitors.

• In the last decade, the NI tourism market grew by 60 per cent, with £357 million revenue generated in 2005. Cultural tourism is growing faster than other tourist segments, engaging 39 per cent (224,000 ) of visitors each year in cultural activities. Investment in the arts is needed if we are to compete with the 200 destinations across the globe, and capitalise on the potential for further growth.

The arts are catalysts for local regeneration:

• The arts are acknowledged around the world as prime catalysts in transforming the cultural and economic regeneration of cities and regions.

• Participation in the creative arts leads to community regeneration, enhancing social cohesion by promoting the integration of minority groups, tackling sectarianism and racism and contributing to a more inclusive society – all areas of social dissonance which have proven all too costly in our recent history.

• Arts activities support the delivery of the Government’s ‘Shared Future’ agenda. Two thirds of Arts Council-funded arts activity supports cross community participation.

• Arts facilities play a unique role in regenerating the night life and thereby the night-time economy of towns and cities, which benefits other local businesses, cafes, etc in the surrounding area.

What about our cultural entitlement?:

• The people of Northern Ireland deserve the same cultural entitlement as our neighbours – the arts are not after all just for London, Dublin, Liverpool, Cardiff, Cork or Glasgow.

• Northern Ireland receives the lowest level of public investment in the arts across the UK, at £6.13 per head of population. In the last financial year Scotland received £11.93 and the Republic of Ireland, the equivalent of £12.61.

• In October 2007, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, James Purnell, MP announced an increase of £50 million to go to Arts Council England in the 2008-2011 spending cycle, saying that, 'Our arts and culture matter. They are a key part of the life and identity of our country, and that's why the government has invested heavily in them since 1997.'

• The gap in funding between NI and the rest of the UK is widening. Since 2004/05 funding to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland has been frozen, which effectively means it has been decreasing in real terms.

• The Government’s diversion of Lottery funds to the London Olympic Games 2012 means that Lottery funding for the arts in NI will drop by a further £4.55m to an estimated £4.74 million by 2011/12.

• The Arts Council has to turn down on average 60 per cent of applications annually from artists, primarily due to lack of funds.

• Reversing the historical deficit of funding in the arts in Northern Ireland requires an uplift of funding of just under £9 million per annum, a total of £26.9 million over the three years of the CSR period. This would place spending at just under £11.50 per capita, on a par with other countries in the UK.

• The increase in the annual arts budget sought by the Arts Council is very modest in relation to the overall Northern Ireland budget – the Arts Council’s current budget is less than one third of one per cent of the health budget; or two thirds of one per cent of the Education budget.

The contribution to Northern Ireland’s improving image abroad:

• Northern Ireland’s poets, writers and musicians have brought the region significant international acclaim including the Nobel Prize for Literature, the International Tchaikovsky Prize and even Oscars.

• The arts make the world talk about NI for all the right reasons and promote a positive image of a confident and creative place in which to live, work and do business.

• The arts are a vibrant sector which deserves to be nurtured and which is already a potent force in enhancing the image of Northern Ireland abroad.

Contribution to education and health:

• The arts support the development of children and young people through a range of innovative programmes. 75,000 school children enjoy arts workshops each year.

• Arts are good for health and aid recovery. 88 per cent of people surveyed at the Mater Hospital, Belfast said that they found arts activity beneficial. A study at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital found that participation in the arts has led to improved outcomes, including a reduction of patient staying time in hospital.

Several important consequences of no spending uplift and a 5th year of standstill funding for the arts:

• Programmes will close, putting the future of dozens of organisations in jeopardy.

• Over 200 full-time and part-time jobs could be at risk.

• Over 25,000 participants from across NI, including many young people, will be denied access to outreach activities and engagement in the arts.

• Over 3,000 arts events will not take place.

• We may not be able to continue to support several groundbreaking initiatives like Creative Youth Partnerships, which provides 300 arts projects, employment for 130 artists, and direct involvement in the arts for 13,000 young people; or Re-imaging Communities, which is helping communities overcome the negative impact of The Troubles and gain a sense of civic pride and empowerment.