‘Arts Matter’ Campaign Puts NÍ Chuilín Under Pressure
By Tyler McNally
Sinn Féin love to pose as being anti-austerity. Yet, during her three years as Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Sinn Féin’s Carál Ní Chuilín has overseen cuts of £4 million, cutting funding to some of our leading arts bodies by 20% over the last year.
When asked why the funds were slashed, the Minister tried to spin her actions as an attempt to take money from arts organisations so disadvantaged communities can access the arts. When this was proven to be false, she then tried to sectarianise the issue of arts funding by claiming that the arts bodies here paid no heed to republican struggle or culture. Regardless of Ní Chuilín and Sinn Féin’s endless floundering on the issue, these cuts are a life or death issue for many organisations in a sector that receives no more than £10m in funding, only to return a staggering £737m back into our economy.
These organisations are already operating on shoe-string budgets, are understaffed and underpaid, with some even taking second jobs to maintain a living. So it comes as no surprise that excuses were not accepted and nearly 300 artists, trade unionists and community campaigners descended on Stormont earlier this month, demanding a full reversal of the cuts to arts funding. With elections both North & South weighing on their minds, it remains to be seen whether or not Sinn Féin will cave to pressure and reverse these cuts. What is certain is that the ‘Arts Matter’ campaign needs to keep up the pressure by and oppose any divide-and-rule games played by the politicians.