Northern Ireland arts: 32 groups to have Stormont funding restored

By Robbie Meredith
BBC News NI Arts Correspondent

Published
image captionThe Arts Council will distribute £620,000 between 32 of the biggest arts groups

Recent funding cuts to 32 of Northern Ireland's biggest arts organisations have been reversed after the Stormont executive's November budget.

The groups had been told they would lose 7% of their planned funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

But after this month's budget, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) said £620,000 would be restored to the Arts Council for the groups.

Culture Minister Carál Nί Chuilίn said she was "delighted" to offer the money.

Those who will benefit include the Lyric Theatre, the Metropolitan Arts Centre (MAC) and the Grand Opera House, all based in Belfast, and the Playhouse Theatre in Londonderry.

Protest

The Ulster Orchestra, the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival and Belfast Community Circus School will also see their funding restored.

The move will mean the orchestra will receive £125,000 it feared it had lost, while the Lyric Theatre and the MAC will see just under £70,000 restored.

image captionCarál Nί Chuilίn had been heavily criticised over cuts to the Arts Council's budget

In October, about 300 artists, musicians, actors and representatives from the affected organisations took part in a demonstration at Stormont to protest against the cuts.

Many warned the in-year cuts would lead to job losses and the cancellation of shows.

Ms Nί Chuilίn also announced she was restoring £320,000 of funding to Sport NI.

Relief

The Arts Council also made in-year cuts of £250,000 to their own operating budget, but that money has not been restored.

Its annual funding for 2015/16 from DCAL had already been cut by 11%, or £1.38m, in March.

But in statement, the Arts Council said the minister's announcement had come as a relief.

"We appreciated greatly the opportunity to meet with the minister in October when we conveyed the Arts Council's and the sector's deep concerns at the impact of the in-year reductions," it said.

"The Arts Council will continue to support the minster in her efforts to bring public funding for the arts to the level at which they should be, to achieve the full potential of the arts in the lives of all the people."

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