Belfast City Council increases arts funding 27%

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Belfast City Council is to increase its spending on the arts by 27% after agreeing a £4.1 million funding package for more than 50 companies and venues as part of a new three-year support plan.

Almost £1.4 million will be distributed annually from 2013-16 – compared to just over £930,000 per year in 2010 to 2012 – through the council’s Core Multi-Annual Funding scheme which will also see the number of organisations receiving core funding increasing more than threefold from 16 in previous years to 52.

The move is being seen as crucial to realising Belfast’s newly published Cultural Framework plan and is intended to complement a wider £150 million investment programme in the city over the same period. The council says the increased funding will help support more than 400 jobs and 4,000 arts workers in the city.

Targets in the Cultural Framework include increasing audiences and growing visitor numbers by 10% each and generating £8 in income for every £1 invested in the sector.

Alderman Christopher Stalford, chairman of the council’s development committee, said: “The Council is very proud of the contribution arts and culture makes to the city’s quality of life and economy, and that is why we committed to investing £4.1 million in the sector over the next three years.

“Arts and heritage are valued for enriching quality of life and creating wealth, and the city’s culture and creativity should be renowned throughout the world. The achievements of the cultural sector working in partnership with Belfast City Council and key stakeholders have provided a firm base to establish Belfast as a creative and cultural city.”

Applications were received from 68 organisations requesting funding of almost £2.4 million in total. The 52 successful applicants – who include the Lyric, Tinderbox, Kabosh and Bruiser theatre companies, the Grand Opera House, arts centres, dance, circus, music and community groups – are expected to receive an average 72% of the amounts requested.