Culture title ‘excuse’ to cut funding

Derry’s City of Culture success is being used as an “excuse” to cut funding to community groups in deprived areas, it’s been claimed.

Shantallow community leader Ollie Green says a number of Belfast-based funding bodies and government departments are slashing grants to groups “working in the heart of our most deprived areas”.

Mr. Green, founder of Greater Shantallow Community Arts and the popular Earhart Festival, says the myth that the Culture Company - the group responsible for planning and delivering events between now and 2013 - has a “pot of money” needs to be exposed.

He claimed: “To date, not a single penny that I’m aware of has been spent or given to support community arts organisations like ours working on the ground to strengthen or develop our programmes. The only monies I know to have been spent by the Culture Company to date are on its own staff and advertising and there is currently nothing on offer for any local community arts organisation to apply for.”

Mr. Green wants local politicians to “raise their collective voices” and demand a City of Culture process that “makes a real difference” to everyone.

“I would implore them to engage with strategic funding bodies and encourage them not to abandon the deprived communities in Derry and to dispel the myth of the City of Culture’s pot of gold.”

In a separate development, the Culture Company says the top priority of 2013 is to leave a lasting legacy and deliver a truly ‘Legend-Derry’ year.

For article by City of Culture chief executive Shona McCarthy, see page nine.