So the Museum of Ulster in Belfast is closing for two years. Why? Because it has a leaky roof and there's not the money to fix it.
And even though Northern Ireland is part of the UK, it's the poor cousin of England, Wales and Scotland (although I'm sure they too would argue that their funding is dire) with only £6.13 per capita spent on the arts.
How can our government stand the shame of having to remove facilities from locals and tourists alike? Why don't we get the same allocation of funds that other UK countries get?
Northern Ireland's funding from both local and national sources is in crisis.
Please take a moment to read this excerpt from keep our arts alive and show your support during the upcoming public consultations. After all, the arts should be accessible to everyone.
"The advantages to be gained from meaningful investment in the arts have been recognised by Northern Ireland’s main political parties, which gave their overwhelming support in October to a Private Members’ Motion, calling on the Executive ‘to raise the level of arts funding to at least the United Kingdom average within the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review.’
Regrettably, cross party ministerial support for the motion is not reflected in a Draft Budget which, if realised, will have devastating consequences for the arts sector and a negative impact on the economy as a whole. Our artists and core organisations will face a bleak future, and pressing developmental work will not be undertaken.
Spending on the arts in Northern Ireland is channelled through the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL). DCAL’s provisional budget planning figures indicate that the Arts Council – the lead funding and development agency for the arts in Northern Ireland - is likely to receive a nominal net increase of £4.25m, the equivalent of a per capita increase from £6.13 to £7.89, but only by year three. Moreover the figures are only guaranteed for year one with subsequent years two and three being only provisional: hence there is no guarantee that such an eventual modest uplift would in fact be forthcoming.
Current Arts Council assessment is that the arts in Northern Ireland require an additional £26m investment over the coming three-year spending period – the equivalent of £11.55 per capita. This would be a modest increase in the context of the overall Northern Ireland budget - the Arts Council’s current budget is less than one third of one per cent of the existing health budget; or two thirds of one per cent of the education budget.
The Arts Council’s request per annum is approximately £9m. With the prospect of an additional uplift of only £500k for next year, the sector faces immediate financial problems. This draft settlement falls far short of the Arts Council’s assessment of need.
The increase of £4.25m makes some provision for the shortfall in National Lottery funding for the arts due to the redirection of funds by the Government to support the Olympic Games 2012. However, the Arts Council stands to lose £4.5m as a result of the redirection.
The people of Northern Ireland should have the same cultural entitlement as their neighbours on these islands. Yet the prospect of achieving broad parity the rest of the UK or the Republic of Ireland remains as distant as ever, and we remain consigned to the bottom of the UK and Ireland league table.
The arts sector in Northern Ireland has endured standstill funding for the past three consecutive years – a cut in real terms - and continues to have the lowest baseline figure for public spending on the arts. Public spending per capita on the arts in the year 2006-07 was: in the Republic of Ireland £12.61; in Scotland £11.93; in Wales £8.80; in England £8.39; in Northern Ireland £6.13 (£10.5m). The 2008-2011 per capita figures for the rest of the UK and Ireland will be published on this website when the detail becomes available – regardless, Northern Ireland will still be at the bottom of the league table.
The last time the government departments and agencies went through this competitive budgeting process, a small number of departments managed to turn around their initial bleak budget and to achieve an increased settlement, as a direct result of lobbying pressure from the departments, their sectors and the public, during the consultation period."
You can read more about the campaign on their main site.