Bradley requests review of Arts funding for Newry

October 14, 2013

SDLP Assembly Member for Newry and Armagh Dominic Bradley MLA has raised the issue of the underfunding of Arts in Newry in the Assembly. During Question Time at the Assembly last week, the MLA asked Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Carál Ní Chuilín to review the capital funding for the Arts in Newry.

Mr Bradley said, ‘Newry City and the wider hinterlands of South Armagh and South Down are steeped in a rich heritage of culture, arts, drama, music and story telling and yet we do not have the arts facilities to match it.’

‘Over recent weeks and months the Arts sector in Newry have come together to lobby for real and meaningful capital investment in the sector locally.  They want to see a modern facility provided in Newry to match the thriving arts and creative industry sector locally.’

‘The Minister has confirmed that the Arts Council for Northern Ireland has funded the arts sector in Newry to the tune of £87,000 in the past year, this is very welcome but is a drop in the ocean in comparison to other towns and cities across the North.’

‘I want to see this issue progressed in a very positive way and that’s why I have put down a motion in the Assembly asking the Minister to have her department and The Arts Council engage with all the local stakeholders to help deliver significant capital investment in the arts sector and indeed a new modern arts facility in Newry in the not too distant future.’

Mr Bradley’s lobbying of the issue is welcomed by members of the newly formed Arts Collective in Newry who have been spurred into action in recent weeks in the wake of the controversy over the decrepit condition of Newry’s Town Hall.

The group are due to meet with Newry City Councillors ahead of a council meeting later this month which will discuss a proposed 1.4 million refurbishment of the Town Hall.

They hope to discuss the formation of a coherent Council Arts strategy to promote and fund the Arts in Newry in an effort to bring it above its current ranking of 17th place in terms of Arts funding in Northern Ireland, with just 25,000 spent each year on the sector.

Commenting recently on the underfunding of the Arts in Newry, spokesperson for the Arts Collective, Rozlyn Sheridan of Sheridan Stage School, said,

“The cultural and economic benefits of the Arts have been overlooked.

“We are the fourth largest city in Northern Ireland and this is not reflected in terms of funding for the Arts.

“There are a lot of people out there doing good stuff and we could have some great festivals and showcases.  The Council have not invested in a strategy for the Arts.”