Fair Deal for the Arts NI Film Campaign Launches at Festival

Videos highlighting what the arts do for us screened at venues across Northern Ireland

A film in support of the Fair Deal for the Arts NI budget campaign has premiered at the Theatre at the Mill, as part of the theatre’s 2011 Film Festival. The film is being screened to audiences throughout the festival, including members of the Culture, Arts and Leisure (CAL) committee who viewed it at a special screening this week.

The film is the first in a series of three produced by Culture Northern Ireland and the Nerve Centre, protesting against the scale of the proposed cuts to the arts budget. Numerous arts venues and theatres across Northern Ireland – including the QFT, Ulster Hall, the Grand Opera House, the Playhouse, and the Waterside Theatre – have been screening the film in support of the campaign.

The short animations show how the people of Northern Ireland benefit from public investment in the arts, from theatre to music, film and festivals.

Bernard Clarkson, Theatre Manager, Theatre at the Mill, commented: 'We were very keen to screen the movie as we want to support the campaign in whatever way we can, and our annual film festival provided the perfect opportunity to reach a wide audience. The Theatre is very aware of the severe impact that the proposed cuts to the arts budget could have on the sector in general. In joining with other arts organisations in supporting the Fair Deal campaign, we hope to raise public awareness about the important role that arts and culture plays in our everyday lives.'

Councillor Ken Robinson MLA, who viewed the first screening of the film, added: 'This film is very timely and to have its premiere in this excellent facility, which is itself a tangible recognition by my council of the value of the arts in our community, is most fitting. Attendance figures in the first year of the Theatre at the Mill have reflected the desire of the public to use this wonderful new venue and in doing so have illustrated their continuing support for the arts in Newtownabbey and beyond. I would urge the public to expand that existing commitment as we enter this era of financial austerity and also to lend their support to this informative ‘Fair Deal for the Arts’ Campaign.'

Arts Council Chief Executive Roisin McDonough commended the video saying: 'It’s difficult to imagine Northern Ireland without arts and culture at its heart but the proposed cut to the arts budget will undoubtedly cause irreparable damage to the sector. This film highlights how the arts impact across all areas of our lives – including our communities, schools and hospitals.

'The arts sector is being asked to take a disproportionate share of the public sector cuts. There is still time to influence the Executive, so we are asking everyone to pledge their support for the campaign by logging onto Facebook and sending the Fair Deal for the Arts campaign letter.'

The arts are facing a proposed £4.2million budget cut over the four year budget period. With inflation, this represents a reduction of 23% and that will inevitably impact directly on jobs and frontline services.

The public consultation on the Northern Ireland Draft Budget 2011-2015 closes on Wednesday, February 16. To find out more about the Fair Deal for the Arts Facebook Campaign visit www.facebook.com/fairdealfortheartsni and watch the Fair Deal for the Arts videos at www.youtube.com/cultureni.