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Old 21st Oct 2005, 23:52   #11
John Self
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Default Re: Belfast Festival: 21 Oct - 6 Nov 2005

Opening event of the Festival tonight, the Insectes parade through the city.



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Old 6th Nov 2006, 16:54   #12
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Default Re: Belfast Festival: 21 Oct - 6 Nov 2005

So as the 2006 Belfast Festival drew to a close at the weekend, imagine my horror at being handed a leaflet along the following lines on the way out of the Patrick McCabe talk:

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As you may have heard on the media this could be the last Belfast Festival at Queen's ever! Queen's University has announced that unless funding bodies match the commitmnent of the University it will not fund the Festival next year. We are asking you to support the future of Belfast Festival by contacting your local political representative and asking for their support or just by forwarding your words of support to the Festival office. It can all make a difference! You can do this by emailing supportbelfastfestival@qub.ac.uk. We look forward to hearing from you!
Apparently funding by the 'bodies' has dropped 32% in the last few years. This is despite the fact that the Festival this year took half a million pounds in ticket sales and attracted 100,000 people (about one person in five in Belfast) - the highest ever. Of course all this could be scaremongering by well-organised culture lobbies, but who knows? So if you're a member or a lurker in Northern Ireland and want to protest, email them as suggested above. I did:

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I am appalled to learn that this year's Festival may be the last, because of funding cuts by the award bodies. It horrifies me that Northern Ireland's only arts Festival of international standard is facing closure while sectarian organisations on both sides of the 'political divide' can obtain funding for their stunted idea of 'culture', which discourage tourism, dent the economy and continue to portray NI as a backward, culturally primitive society.
Please keep me informed of developments and be assured of my continued support for the Festival in future years - if any...
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Old 8th Nov 2006, 15:30   #13
wshaw
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Default Re: Belfast Festival at Queen's

The remarkable fact about such arts festivals is that they are such astonishingly good value for funding bodies. If the Belfast Festival took half a million in ticket sales and had a fifth of a million attendences it's almost certain that the city as a whole will be seeing a massive financial benefit.

Here in Brighton the figures are about double that but an independent financial survey of the 2004 festival concluded that the 400,000 attendences brought about £20m extra revenue to the city - in hotel rooms, taxis, restaurants, shopping etc - let alone the incalculable value of what it does to a city's image for inward investment.

I'm sure it is scaremongering by funding bodies - sounds like the University is trying to squeeze more out of another partner - but funding is always precarious, despite the clear economic logic. Politically it's easy to attack arts festivals as a middle class indulgence despie the fact that they're so effective as an engine of economic and social development. Do you know what the other main funding bodies are?
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Old 8th Nov 2006, 15:46   #14
John Self
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Default Re: Belfast Festival at Queen's

Well I'm guessing it's the Arts Council for NI and whatever Lotteries body deals with such things. Plus the programme always has a list of "corporate partners" as long as your arm. It really beats me why they do need more money, particularly if ticket sales are so good, but I'm happy to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Middle-class indulgence perhaps (and I know you weren't personally making that point, but it's a good springboard), but you know what? It's pretty much the only subsidy that I get from the government in any form. I am a net contributor to education, health and social security through taxes as I never make use of them, it can't really cost the council the entirety of my annual rates bill just to empty my bin, and I pay my way in full through life. It's about frigging time the middle classes, if that's what I am, were afforded a bit of indulgence! Anyway, since when was art and creative enjoyment an indulgence? It's as essential as breathing.
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