Hustings on the future of the Arts in Northern Ireland. Does it have one?

All 5 Executive parties were represented at the first MAC Question Time earlier this week which was focussed on the Arts. The #MACQT debate posed the question “Is there a future for the arts in Northern Ireland?”

The event was opened by MAC Chief Executive Anne McReynolds who boldly challenged the assertion that all arts events must ‘wash their face’. “Do hospitals wash their face? Do roads wash their face?”

140415dk2003The lively discussion was chaired by Wendy Austin and the panel was:

  • Nelson McCausland MLA – Former DUP DCAL Minister
  • Cllr Claire Hanna – SDLP South Belfast
  • Rodney McCune – UUP Westminster candidate
  • Cllr Niall O’Donnghaile – former Lord Mayor and Westminster candidate
  • Cllr Emmet McDonagh Brown, South Belfast Alliance

It may be easy for politicians to say ‘yes we support the arts’ but the audience didn’t let the panel off too lightly, given recent cuts across the arts sector. It picked up some interesting comment via Twitter:

Niall Ó Donnghaile in particular felt a bit of heat and had to answer to some extent for the actions of party colleague DCAL Minister Carál Ní Chuilín. Unsurprisingly he deflected the funding challenge to the ‘Tory block grant.’

The MAC event followed on from a discussion on the Nolan Show with David Vance, Brendan Mulgrew and Malachi O’Doherty…

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