The future of Derry’s Foyle Film Festival is in doubt after Northern Ireland Screen’s budget was cut dramatically.
The proposed cuts will also affect other organisations including Cinemagic, Belfast Film Festival, the Queen’s Film Theatre, and CultureTECH.
Groundbreaking local education programmes around digital literacy, technology, creativity and film are under threat, following the proposed cuts.
The proposed 50 per cent cuts will devastate Northern Ireland’s three Creative Learning Centres (CLCs) in Derry, Belfast and Armagh, and the Nerve Centre’s hugely popular Foyle Film Festival, INTO Film Clubs and Film Education programmes.
Last year, almost 7,000 young people and more than 5,000 teachers received training in digital skills including film, music, coding and animation through the Creative Learning Centres; more than 2,800 young people attended after-school film clubs at 118 schools; and 6,000 film-goers and young people enjoyed the Foyle Film Festival, Northern Ireland’s only Oscar®-affiliated film festival.
Pearse Moore, Chief Executive of the Nerve Centre, described the news as “devastating” and said if the proposals go forward then “jobs will inevitably be lost”.
“These cuts will have a devastating impact. The CLCs are giving young people the digital skills needed for a 21st century workforce, including some of the most marginalized young people in our society.
“Nerve Centre film programmes are also changing lives for the better though the power of film,” said Mr. Moore.
“If this cut goes through, jobs will inevitably be lost. Our 22 staff working in this area face a very uncertain New Year until this budget is confirmed. Not the news people want to hear just before Christmas.”
The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) has asked Northern Ireland Screen to prepare for cuts to its budget next year from £1.9m to £1m.
The Nerve Centre and the CLCs have started a campaign against the cuts and are asking the public and users of their services to send objections via www.nervecentre.org or direct to DCAL on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr Moore added:
“I would urge the more than 20,000 people to have benefited from the CLCs and our film education programmes to make their views heard.”