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Northern Ireland arts cuts of £620,000 to be reversed

Alan McKee and Conor Grimes in the Lyric Theatre's recently launched comedy club, Sunday Service Alan McKee and Conor Grimes in the Lyric Theatre's recently launched comedy club, Sunday Service
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Arts organisations in Northern Ireland have welcomed the news that in-year cuts of £620,000 announced last month are to be reversed.

More than 30 companies were affected by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s proposed reductions, with Belfast’s Lyric Theatre and the MAC arts centre each standing to lose £68,000 in addition to a £50,000 reduction announced in March.

However, the cuts have been reversed following a reallocation of funds in the Northern Ireland Assembly’s November monitoring round. This benefits the Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure, which funds the arts council.

Other organisations that now expect to have funding returned include the Grand Opera House and the Ulster Orchestra in Belfast, and Londonderry’s Playhouse Theatre.

In a statement, the arts council, whose budget was cut by 11% (equivalent to £1.38 million) in March, said it welcomed the news “that £620,000 will be allocated to reinstate grants to the 32 organisations affected by earlier in-year cuts.”

It added: “There will be a sense of relief shared by those affected by the announcement.”

Campaign body Arts Matters NI, which organised a public rally protesting against the cuts earlier this month, said: “Good news as it is, this reinstatement of funds is only the start of the investment required. The arts sector in Northern Ireland has long been underfunded and has been affected disproportionately in recent waves of budget cuts.”

Government-funded arts spending in the region, equivalent to just over 10p per person each year, is the lowest in the UK and Ireland.

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