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Signs of collective protest

Resilience and political actions against arts funding cuts

Arts oranisations, campaigners

Ends 10 November 2015

As the protest against the cuts in arts funding continues, PS² will display banners and signs from the Stormont Rally on Tuesday 03 November, organised by Arts Matter NI.
About 300 artists, musicians, writers, actors, acrobats, community-arts organisers and community groups gathered at Stormont- the seat of Northern Ireland's devolved government- to protest against cuts to the arts budget.
This was a colourful and spectacular rally, framed by delegates of all political parties and in front of the building where political power resides. The demonstration was staged ahead of a session with the Arts Minister Carál Ní Chuilín, answering questions from MLA's the same day.
How much this collective protest by the creative powerful will impact on the political powerholders has yet to be seen. The symbolic act in front of Parliament building is part of an ongoing campaign of lobbying and advocacy for increased investment in the arts.
Signs of collective protest answered by signs of a political rethink?
For more updated information and ways you can get involved in see ArtsMatterNI; facebook page and twitter.

Northern Ireland arts: Artists gather at Stormont to protest at cuts

By Robbie Meredith BBC News NI Education Correspondent.3 November 2015

'About 300 artists, musicians, writers and actors gathered at Stormont to protest about cuts to the arts budget. They gathered outside, ahead of the Arts Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín, answering questions from MLAs on Tuesday afternoon.
The protestors say arts organisations cannot sustain constant reductions in their grants and that performances, shows and jobs are at risk.
Ms Ní Chuilín says she is dealing with a reduced budget within her department. She has previously said she cannot reverse the in-year cut of more than £800,000 in arts funding that she recently announced.
Niall McCaughan, from the Playhouse Theatre in Londonderry, said: "The budget has decreased over the last four years from £14m to £10m and we really need to reverse this. "It needs to happen now."

Also attending the protest is Will Chamberlain from the Belfast Circus School.
"We have questions being put to her in the assembly and we're going to be watching," he said. "I think that's the message that we have for her that it's not just the arts community that has questions, all political parties really have questions, and we want the right answers and we're going to keep on asking the questions until she realises the value of the arts and the folly of the cuts."

Later, during questions to the culture minister in the assembly, Ms Ní Chuilín, in response to a question from Basil McCrea, said she would meet some of the arts protestors. She later held a brief meeting with some representatives from the protest in the Great Hall at Stormont, where they told her directly of their concerns. Although she did not say that any more money for the arts was available, she agreed to meet with them again in the weeks ahead.

Protest at Stormont

Installation view

Open Letter to the Minister Published on ArtsMatterNI

Dear Minister Hundreds of people have answered the call in person to rally for the arts in Northern Ireland here today. Many thousands more have expressed their support through social media.
We are alarmed and disturbed that an in-year cut has been made to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
This cut has been so large that it was inevitable the impact would land with the arts community supported by this Arms Length Body. It has resulted in loss of employment for some, job insecurity for many more and it has taken away programmes that were to be delivered working with communities around Northern Ireland. We ask that you restore this cut to the arts community by reinstating the money to the Arts Council and to offer continued support for the great work done year round by the highly dedicated, committed and professional arts sector.
We are also seeking your assurance that your party will support a strategy that actively encourages the arts and places it within the forthcoming Programme for Government, to ensure that the funding made available to the Arms Length Body here is at least equitable and comparable with other parts of the UK and Ireland.
Currently, the per capita executive funding for the arts in Northern Ireland is only 60% that of Wales and 35% that of Scotland.
We want you to make sure there are adequate funds to maintain the current arts infrastructure and support the development of a creative economy that can build jobs, artistic opportunities, health, well-being and educational achievement.
We would welcome the opportunity to work in partnership with you in the current and future Departmental arrangements. Together we can promote the value, excellence and impact of the arts for all citizens. And we can create a future where the arts are valued for the contributions they make to a vibrant and cultured society.
We look forward to hearing your response to our requests. On behalf of The Executive Committee, ArtsMatterNI
When we met the Minister, she confirmed that the arts would be in the next Programme for Government. She said that there would be a draft DCAL strategy for the Arts published for consultation in 3 weeks. She also said that she would meet ArtsMatterNI in 2-3 weeks. Baby steps, but progress was made. The fight for the arts continues.