Budget Cuts For The Arts

Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure announce £1.1 million budget cuts

Following the proposed budget announcement made on Monday January 11 by the finance minister, Sammy Wilson, of a £367 million budget cut across the government departments in April 2010, the minister for culture, arts and leisure, Nelson McCausland, has indicated that the Arts Council of Northern Ireland should plan for a budget cut of approximately £1.1 million in 2010/11.

The Arts Council had been expecting an uplift of £1.55 million in 2010/11, based on the government’s three-year budget projections announced back in 2008. Monday’s budget announcement, however, means that the expected final year uplift will not now materialise.

Taking into account inflation and increased pressures on the arts budget in 2010/11 due to priority commitments such as the additional running costs of new and recently refurbished arts venues (the Playhouse, Waterside Theatre and Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin in Derry and Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast), the Arts Council admit that it will be difficult to maintain even standstill funding for the majority of the sector.

In line with all public sector bodies, the Arts Council will be expected to continue to make efficiency savings to its own operational costs.

The chairman of the Arts Council, Rosemary Kelly, OBE, said: 'We are of course disappointed at the prospect of this cut to the arts budget and very aware of the painful consequences that this will inevitably have for our artists, arts organisations and venues.

'The Arts Council will continue to put the case on behalf of the arts sector during the remaining six-week consultation period. However, given the political consensus already reached on the overall budget, we recognise that we must all prepare for difficult times ahead.'

The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, which is the Arts Council’s parent department, is itself set to lose £25.9 million, making it in proportional terms the second hardest hit of Northern Ireland’s government departments.