Full breakdown of Arts Council funding cuts announced today (tables galore)

This morning Arts Council NI released the details of their 2015/6 grants to organisations along with the 2014/5 grants for comparison. Overall there is a year on year drop of 6.2% in funding from ACNI.

(For reference, the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure – which funds ACNI as an arm’s length body – lost 10% of its budget for the next financial year.)

This post summaries the funding changes.

00 ACNI funding changes summarybanding of ACNI 2015-6 grants cumulativeI’ve added columns to the original ACNI information to show the actual change and the percentage change between 2014/5 and 2015/6, and grouped the organisations into categories (to show organisations losing funding that is likely to equate to at least half or a whole member of staff).

The median grant is £66,600 and the overall distribution of grants shows that half of the bodies receive less than £75,000 and account for just 16.5% of the pot of funding.


01 02 ACNI Funding gains

  • 1 new organisation received a grant – East Belfast Partnership
  • 9 organisations were successful in receiving a larger grant this year: Ulster Association of Youth Drama and Photo Worlds North/Source Magazine more than doubled their 2014/5 funding.

In total, just under £320k of additional funding was allocated.

03 ACNI funding totally withdrawn6 organisations lose all of their Arts Council NI funding, a saving of £285k.

04 ACNI funding down by 20 percent14 groups lose more than £20k of funding. 6 of them lose more than 40% of their funding, with The Nerve Centre in Derry losing £104k (67.4%).

05 ACNI funding down by 10 to 20 percent4 organisations lose between £10k and £20k, likely to correspond to a loss of 0.5 FTE.

06 ACNi funding down by less than 10 percentA further 7 groups lose less than £10k.

Over £900k of funding was withdrawn from these 25 organisations.

07a ACNI funding unchanged 07b ACNI funding unchanged 07c ACNI funding unchanged74 groups see no change in their funding (applying a tolerance of £500).

Of the larger bodies:

  • NI Opera was the only organisation that received more than £250k that comes away with more funding in 2015/6.
  • The Ulster Orchestra (which receives the largest ACNI grant) and the Grand Opera House both lose £100k while The Lyric Theatre and MAC both lose £50k.

ACNI’s Chief Executive Roisin McDonough summarised the cuts:

In response to the resources now available to us, we have removed six organisations from the Annual Funding Programme. We did this with great reluctance and we would, under any other circumstances have wished to continue to support them. We have also reduced funding to umbrella bodies, in order to protect front-line services, and have reduced funding for a number of arts venues because, unlike the rest of the arts sector, they have the capacity to generate additional income through programming and ticketing.

However, the impact of these cuts is not limited to these organisations as it will be felt across the sector and the wider community. The Arts Council will also make savings for the second year running. This year £244,000 will be saved cross our own staffing and overheads. After all of these cuts have been made what we are left with is a smaller sector, working with reduced income and a reduced capacity to deliver great arts for all.

This is not the end of the story; we know the cuts to public spending may bite deeper in the future but we hope that in taking difficult decisions this year we have protected the core elements of each art form, so that in better times they will be able to grow again.

Adam Turkington pie chart of arts fundingAs Adam pointed out last year, only around one thousandth of the NI block grant is allocated to DCAL, and around a tenth of that reaches the Arts Council.

While the sums are significant to the organisations benefiting – allowing them to introduce new audiences and curate programmes that enrich society – they are a trifle when compared with the the NI Executive budget.

  • Given that DCAL’s budget shrank and the Arts Council had to made cuts commensurate with their funding, was there a fairer way that folk think the cuts should have been proportioned? (Granted that we don’t have access to the funding applications and the detail of what groups planned to do with the money.)

  • It’s probably worth noting the comments by Northern Ireland Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Sinn Fein’s Carál Ní Chuilín, on a not-entirely-unrelated matter…

    “My fear is that [], it sends a message out to the arts that humanities and the arts are not worth funding, it doesn’t have value.”

  • Zeno

    £180 million to upgrade sports grounds last year……
    It’s basically an attack on the arts because it is seen in some quarters as only being for rich people.

  • Granni Trixie

    I am curious to know about the East Belfast Partnership – my understanding is that this is primarily a community development enterprise. Has it come up with an arts programme?
    Seems odd for something untried to get over 90K.

    Aside from that, I think that it is obvious that the case for supporting the arts needs to be made and made again by arts practitioners – looks like We cannot rely on MLAs to prioritise and ensure there are adequate resources to support the arts.

    I’m just in from a great hooley in Ulster Hall to celebrate Michael Longley getting Freedom of Belfast. What an evening – music,poetry,President of Ireland speech. ….belfast Councillors United to honour a lcal poet. Need I go on?

  • Practically_Family

    I would zero fund the entire sector for a year. Let them claw each others eyes out and then see if a RATIONAL arts agenda could be presented.

    *This may not actually be fair to entities outside Belfast.

  • Granni – BBC explain that:

    One body, the East Belfast Partnership Board, will receive Arts Council funding for the first time for three festivals: EastSide Arts Festival, CS Lewis Festival, and the Woodstock R&B Festival.

  • And yet the minister made no public efforts to lobby for her department’s budget to be maintain – or even enhanced – during the budget negotiations, unlike nearly every other minister who put out statements about street lights, FDI, hospital wards, schools, redundancy schemes …

  • Granni Trixie

    I didn’t know of that growth,thanks Alan.

  • chrisjones2

    If she feels so strongly she could resign ….or but a ticket as she famously doesn’t seem to have attended many events ….will she put her money where her mouth is, as opposed to our money