Major arts and culture events under threat as fears council may scrap funding

Fears that funding for major cultural events may be scrapped by the local council have been voiced by a concerned arts group.

Monday, 18th September 2017, 5:38 pm
Updated Monday, 18th September 2017, 5:42 pm

Popular events such as the Good Life Festival in Craigavon, the Viking events in Portadown and Buskfest in Banbridge could be axed, claim the North Armagh Artists Collective.

When these concerns were put to Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council, their response was that ‘no decision has been made’ in respect of the events highlighted.

One local artist Paul King said while in recent years local artists had been brought in to host workshops weeks prior to the annual Halloween Festival at Craigavon Lakes, this was not the case so far.

Mr King said artists worked with local community and youth groups as well as schools to create exciting sculptures and props for the Halloween parade.

“We have heard nothing from them. It appears invitations to work on these projects have not been issued. It is getting late to create props for the parade so that is another event which could be axed,” he said.

The North Armagh Artists Collective have been gaining substantial support online after they posted their concerns about funding from the local council.

The group said: “We attended a local arts meeting last week and we were told that Armagh Banbridge Craigavon Council have stopped all funding for a lot of the major events in the Craigavon and Banbridge areas. The ABC council department of Tourism, Arts and Culture will not fund the following major events anymore: Good Life Festival at Oxford Island, Buskfest in Banbridge, The Viking events in Portadown, the Halloween Parade at Rushmere. The department does not seem to think that these community events are of any value to the local communities. We at NAAC totally disagree with this new policy by the Department of Tourism, Arts and Culture. Culture Night Armagh has also been cut from local public arts events.”

The Mail asked the Council to answer a number of questions:

Could you verify if arts funding is being cut or reduced to the mentioned projects?

What arts projects will be affected by the cutbacks to funds?

Are there any plans to reduce funding to any local arts and culture groups?

Is the future of any arts events under review?

How much funding do these major projects require to succeed and how much money would be saved?

The council’s response was: “Council has several approaches to promote and deliver real value for money for every ratepayer and the range and balance of events and initiatives it provides – which includes the level of quality delivered and the extent to which they meet local needs and wider objectives. These are, as expected, always under review.

“No decision has been made in relation to arts or culture funding or in respect of any of the events which were highlighted to us.”