Arts Cuts: Legacy of culture year ‘damaged’

The Playhouse chief executive Niall McCaughan. (1506PG63)
The Playhouse chief executive Niall McCaughan. (1506PG63)
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The latest swathe of funding cuts to arts organisations in Derry are jeapordising the huge strides the city has made in its cultural offerings since the success of the 2013 City of Culture celebrations.

A number of local arts organisations including the Derry Playhouse, the Verbal Arts Centre, Void and the Waterside Theatre had 7 per cent cuts to this year’s budget confirmed by DCAL on Thursday of last week.

The organisations are now looking at creative ways to deliver this year’s programmes with decreased funding, but as Niall McCaughan, manager of the Playhouse, says the problem does not stop there.

“The cuts have a knock on effect - and that trickles all the way down. When the funding isn’t there - and the cuts hit, it’s not just the big events which are pared back.

“The arts are shown to have huge benefits when it comes to health and wellbeing and education and these will be hit by the trickle-down effect.

“But where we will see it in Derry first of all, is where we see the cuts affecting the legacy of the great year we had during the City of Culture.

“I have spoken to tourism officials in the city who have said we are continuing to see a boost to local tourism following the City of Culture and a lot of that is down to the quality of the cultural offering here.

“Money spent on the arts also equates to money spent in the local economy - and that’s without factoring in the feel good factor that comes with being a city that provides a quality cultural offering.”

Niall said DCAL already operated under a limited budget and the arts were being cut harder than many other sectors.

“Of course this is disappointing news for us and for arts organisations in the city.

“But what we have to do now is work more creatively and proactively.”

“We in the Playhouse are looking at more creative ways to increase our revenue - for example, taking shows which have been born in house to a wider audience.

“We will do this with Josef Locke at the Millennium Forum next week.

“We don’t want to cut programming, or cut our services.

“Nor do we want to lose staff so we are left in the position that we have to think outside the box.”

As the current round of cuts is applicable to this year’s budget, arts organisations in the city remain fearful of what next year’s budget allocations could bring.