Arts Council NI on the brink of cuts to already awarded grants 5 Sep 2014

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has told the 37 arts organisations funded by Exchequer funding to prepare for cuts of 5% to their budgets for this year.  This follows an announcement of 2% cuts to all government departments, excluding health, by finance minister Simon Hamilton.  The cuts have caused a ferocious row about priorities, with former ACNI director Dr Philip Hammond accusing arts minister Caral Ni Chuilín of “clearly [having] absolutely no notion of what is going on in the arts in Northern Ireland.” Chuilín recently found an extra £1m for selected arts projects.

Organisations are being asked for an account of the effect a 5% cut would have on them, before decisions are made in September.  Will Chamberlain of one of the affected groups, Belfast Circus School said “We have to make £8k of savings for the remainder of this financial year and it was a big shock, to think that we had the security of a grant awarded to us back in March and then in August to find out that, no, that’s not the amount that we’ve been awarded after all”.  ACNI is also seeking to reduce its running costs.  The Stage, BBC, Belfast Telegraph