“a significant contribution to the cultural and economic life of Northern Ireland…”

The BBC report on an announcement by the NI Culture minister on future funding for the Belfast Festival. However, the official announcement by the Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, the DUP’s Edwin Poots [Good heavens, indeed. – Ed], reveals that the total figure of £300,000 over three years begins at the same level as this year’s one-off grant, £150,000 announced in February, and drops each year by £25,000 to a level of £75,000 in 2010. There is a reference to work done by the organisers on a 3 year business plan and, as that BBC report noted,

In a statement, Queen’s said the festival “puts more than £6.5m a year into Northern Ireland businesses, benefiting a number of sectors including tourism and hospitality”. “The university hopes now that other funding partners who benefit directly from the festival will recognise the substantial opportunities provided by a properly-funded international festival and respond accordingly,” it added.

A couple of questions spring immediately to mind – how does this fit into the minister’s previously announced plans, which include seeking matched funding from local councils, for future community festival funding? And, given the expressed concern from the leadership of other parties in the Northern Ireland Executive about those plans, does he have the collective backing of his Executive colleagues?