8th September 2020

Dear MLA,

We understand that the COVID crisis has impacted industries and individuals across Northern Ireland and many thousands of people face an uncertain future as we hopefully move out of the lockdown in a careful and managed way.

The Arts and Culture sector is facing very real pressure and without urgent and significant financial intervention many venues and organisations will close, jobs will be lost, career paths blocked off for young people and the cumulative impact will be the end of the arts in Northern Ireland. Our arts venues and organisations, of all sizes and across Northern Ireland, have been closed since March with the subsequent loss of revenue; staff have been furloughed and many of our freelancers have fallen through the gaps in support provided through the SEISS scheme. The resulting loss of creative and cultural activities as a regular part of people's lives is deeply worrying. Our sector is teetering on the brink of devastation.

It is acknowledged that the arts and culture sector plays an important role in driving our economy; attracting global tourists; protecting and enhancing the mental wellbeing of our citizens, underpining involvement in the arts for our disabled and deaf community and bringing communities together. As we emerge from Covid-19, the arts and cultural sector can help Northern Ireland thrive, but only if we survive.

We want you to work with your colleagues, Minister Carál NI Chuilín and others in the NI Executive to help secure the full financial package of £33 million which was allocated to Northern Ireland as a result of a UK-wide investment in the sector which was announced in July. This potential investment is necessary and vital if we are to avoid the collapse of our industry and support, in a post-COVID context, the recovery of the broader arts, cultural and creative industries in Northern Ireland. We need the full allocation of £33million to be spent as intended - in full, and very soon.

The initial UK allocation to help the arts survive was made in early July. Two months later the urgency and gravity of our situation has deepened. We need funds allocated in the coming weeks as this is all the time we have left to ensure that we do not become a cultural wasteland.

We appreciate your support in the past and ask that you continue to work with colleagues and all parties in the Executive to unlock the funds we urgently need to save the arts industry for the benefit of current and future generations of Northern Ireland’s citizens. We are happy to engage with you in person where suitable and by phone or online platform at any time.


Thrive audience development    Crescent Arts Centre    The MAC

Lyric Theatre NI     Grand Opera House      The Millennium Forum

Arts & Business NI     Theatre and Dance NI      Accidental Theatre

Oh Yeah Music Centre     The Black Box      Strand Arts Centre

The Playhouse      The Alley      The Duncairn Arts Centre

Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich     Belfast Community Circus School

Premiere Circus      Festival of Fools      Waterside Theatre

University of Atypical      Creative and Cultural Skills      Sole Purpose Productions

Voluntary Arts Ireland      Craft NI      In Your Space Circus   

Cathedral Quarter Trust     Culturlann Ui Chanain      Eden Arts Centre

North West Culture Partnership     CCA Derry~Londonderry   

Visual Artists Ireland      Belfast Visual Arts Forum     Golden Thread Gallery

Gasyard Wall Féile     Celtronic Derry Ltd      Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company