Belfast City Council has thrown its weight between a campaign calling for increased arts funding in Northern Ireland.
A motion tabled by the Alliance Party’s Michael Long calling on the region’s largest council to offer its “formal support” to the Arts Matter NI campaign was passed by a unanimous, all-party vote on Monday evening.
The move follows mounting concern at the announcement in April of a 4.7% cut in arts spending in the region for 2018/19.
The vote also agreed to a cross-party delegation of councillors meeting the permanent secretary of the Department for Communities “to demand more funds for the arts”.
In a statement welcoming the news, Arts Matter NI said: “Today we have support for our campaign for equality of investment in the arts from across the political spectrum in Belfast. Equality of access and equality of investment. That’s not too much to ask, is it?”
Originally proposed by Long’s Alliance Party colleague and newly elected deputy Lord Mayor, Emmet McDonough-Brown, the motion reads: “This council asserts the value of the arts in our everyday lives, including our wellbeing, education, inclusion as well as our creative and evening economy and our tourism offering.”
Northern Ireland is in its second decade of successive annual cuts to arts funding, with the region’s arts council budget slashed by £23 million since 2012. Its allocation for the year ahead is £13.1 million.