A local community worker has said that if the Department for Social Development (DSD) turns down a funding application for a local arts project it will mean that thousands of people from Galliagh and Shantallow will miss out on Derry’s experience as City of Culture in 2013.
Oliver Green, director of Greater Shantallow Community Arts, said that after highlighting concerns about funding for the Outer North Community Connect Programme earlier this week he received a document saying funding for the project had been rejected by DSD. However, he claims that when he contacted the same department afterwards they told him no decision had been made.
“This project was a joint application between Greater Shantallow Area Partnership and Greater Shantallow Community Arts. It has the backing and support of 28 organisations in the area - everyone in the community is behind it.
“Those who are failing to provide the miserly funding required, seem to be missing the point entirely about 2013 City of Culture.
“In order for the City of Culture to work in Derry it needs to involve the local communities at every opportunity.
“When Derry was unveiled as the City of Culture for 2013, we were told how it would engage with communities from the bottom up. By turning down funding for such a well supported arts programme the DSD are failing the people of this city,” he said.
Mr. Green claims that within the last few days he received a copy of press release issued by DSD to a local radio station. Mr. Green said that the press release states that the funding for the project has been turned down but explained that when he contacted the DSD directly he was told that no decision had been made.
“I’ve no idea what is going on but it seems to me that the DSD are feeding the public misinformation to force their own agenda. They said in their release that the reason the funding was turned down was because the Outer North Community Connect Programme is a duplication of another project that started over a year and a half ago - that’s just not the case.
“The other project got funding for an extension to their community centre - the funding that we are applying for is not even from the same pot of money.
“The DSD have serious questions to answer and I intend to ask the Minister for DSD [Nelson McCausland] to stand over the press release I received during the week and explainthe situation.”
At the time of going to press, no one from the DSD was available for comment.