NORTHERN STAR – FILM & THE ARTS IN N. IRELAND
Tomorrow the public consultation on the proposed cuts to the arts in Northern Ireland closes. At present, the investment amounts to 13p per head of population per week: it’s not a lot. Proposed cuts may mean that film in Northern Ireland loses an unprecedented 50% of its current level of funding.
We cannot underestimate the need to democratise culture by enabling people at the margins to take part as creators, as innovators as well as audience participants. The arts belong to everyone – but we don’t have a 360 degree picture if we don’t have participation, including those who are most marginalised. How else can their voices be heard? How else can society know their stories, their lived experience, their realities? How are they to be represented, if they are not enabled to represent themselves? Society as a whole is richer for it.
Without a robust indigenous arts and film culture, we risk finding ourselves starved of the rich diversity of arts and film experience we need or worse, force-fed commercial pap. People cannot develop a wider range and repertoire of visions of a better future, if we cannot also imagine it, if we are not open to influence, and if ultimately we don’t get the chance to filter such opportunities through our own selves and our own beings, to make something new. Such things are born through engagement with film and the arts. Northern Ireland needs its creative people, it needs art, it needs film, it needs new ways to dream. We need new dreams. We deserve better. We need better. Now is not the time to give hard choices the body-swerve – back the arts.