Artists react to funding denial

The Earhart Festival Parade   DER2914MC160
The Earhart Festival Parade DER2914MC160

A well known local artist has criticised a decision to deny Legacy funding to those tasked with organising the Earhart Festival.

On Friday past, the ‘Journal’ highlighted how the popular Galliagh and Shantallow community event is now in jeopardy for the first time in 16 years following the decision taken by the former Derry City Council and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Joe Campbell, who was worked for decades within the arts community in the North West says he was shocked and disappointed that such a pivotal event had been turned down for financial support.

Speaking to the ‘Journal,’ Mr Campbell said: “In particular I wish to express disappointment from the point of view of a local professional artist and ask a few questions of those

tasked with the ‘legacy’ from City of Culture 2013.

“I have been involved with the festival on and off over the past nine years during which time I have worked with dozens of local musicians, dancers, carnival artists, actors and artists, all employed by the Earhart Festival. This festival has also directly employed and paid most jobbing artists currently working, not just in the city but within the North-West region and beyond, including myself.

“The importance of community involvement in cultural activity is not the sole prerogative of the Earhart Festival, it is the core stated policy at the heart of every arts strategy published over the past decade. It is an aspiration of both national and local governments, and if numbers and engagement are significant, Earhart provides them in spades. So, why cut it. Surely it would be more honest to drop the aspiration for a

‘cultural’ city altogether.”

Mr. Campbell continued by highlighting how difficult it continues to be here in Derry and the North West for artists to find work.

He said: “It is very difficult (to say the least) for many of our local artists to make any significant money as artists. For many creative people such local festivals are like water holes in the desert. You strive to get to such places and (like the traveller in the desert) it is vital that you do reach it, because that’s all there is. Why then, if a culturally engaged community is your stated aim would you cut such a successful vehicle to achieve that objective?”

Mr. Campbell went on to thank the Earhart Festival Director Ollie Green for his support of artists locally throughout the years.