A number of local groups and charities who say they are still awaiting funding promised to them during Derry’s year as City of Culture, have hit out at the Culture Company and Derry City Council.
The groups affected have issued a stern statement via the National Union for Journalists, some of whose members are among those involved with the organisations still awaiting payment.
The delay has taken the shine off last year’s celebrations for many of the groups, some of whom, the NUJ claims, may be force d out of existence.
In the statement, the NUJ Foyle Branch said: “This Branch calls on the Culture Company and Derry City Council to make the final payments for grants awarded specific to Derry’s Capital of Culture year.
“The branch questions why projects that were successfully completed and the paperwork dealt with some six months ago are still waiting to receive the final draw down of their funding - which was not retrospective funding.
“This is despite repeated assurances and at times false promises that the money would be paid out on specific dates.”
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The statement continues: “The Branch notes that as a result,many arts practitioners including NUJ members and those who are involved in working with disadvantaged groups and those registered as charitable for the purposes of taxation are personally out of pocket and have been for up to a year. This has also affected their ability to complete their accounts and apply to other funders for support for 2014-2015.”
The statement goes on to say that while they accept that the transfer of responsibilities from the Culture Company to Derry City Council during last year may have caused difficulties, the issue now needs to be resolved speedily.
“The branch deplores the current situation and calls for it to be ended now with prompt payment, given that the Culture Company is in the process of being wound down.”
Responding to the statement, a spokesperson for the Culture Company said extra resources would be employed to tackle the backlog of payments.
The spokesperson said: “The volume of claims involved in the City of Culture project, in parallel with the varying quality of claim paperwork and time required to review and resolve claims that are not straightforward, has led to delays in payments to some project partners. Extra resources are being brought to bear to deal with payments and Culture Company is working in partnership with Derry City Council to expedite payment for all project partners as quickly as possible.”