Briefly, arts funding in Northern Ireland has traditionally lagged behind England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland. At this time it was estimated that Northern Ireland invested £6.13 per head of population in stark comparison to England (£8.39); Wales (£9.17); Scotland (£11.93) and the Republic of Ireland (£12.61).
While these other regions enjoyed substantial increases in their arts spending, Northern Ireland was investing less and less each year on cultural activity. Central government plans to cut the arts budget by a further £800,000 by 2008 was considered a move that would do irreparable damage to Northern Ireland’s beleaguered arts sector.
This chronic under funding put Northern Ireland at a distinct disadvantage in comparison the rest of UK and Republic of Ireland. The region faced the prospect of an artistic ‘brain drain’ as the brightest talents were forced to travel to Edinburgh, Dublin or London and the move hampered efforts to tap into the lucrative cultural tourism market.
The funding crisis cut across all art forms and all aspects of the arts. On April 25th 2007, a rally took place at Writers Square Belfast, in the Cathedral Quarter, with the intention of highlighting this issue.
First broadcast on May 14th 2007.