Ahead of Culture Night Belfast, Northern Ireland’s largest cultural event, (Friday, 21st September), its principal corporate sponsor, Belfast Harbour, has revealed that it has provided £70,000 to local arts organisations this year.
The funding comes against a backdrop of reducing financial support from the public sector for the arts. In April the Arts Council of Northern Ireland announced that it was cutting its funding for 2018/19 by 4.7%.
As part of this year’s Culture Night, Belfast Harbour will be hosting a series of vaudeville events along its waterfront, including circus acts, music, outdoor theatre and dancing. Proceedings will begin at 4pm on Friday between the Big Fish and the AC Marriott hotel at City Quays.
In addition to supporting Culture Night Belfast for the past four years, Belfast Harbour has a long track record of supporting the arts as part of its Corporate Responsibility programme. This year seven organisations ranging from Beat Carnival to The Black Box received funds to support activity focused on engaging people and communities with the arts.
Jenni Barkley, Belfast Harbour’s Communications and Corporate Responsibility Manager, said:
“The arts play a vital role in many areas including education, tourism, community cohesion and promoting wellbeing. They also help define Northern Ireland as a vibrant destination to live and work in, and that’s a message we’ve heard again and again from firms considering locating in our office development at City Quays. Investing in the arts is, therefore, not only good for society, it also makes good commercial sense.”
Rachael Campbell-Palmer, Co-Director, The Black Box, said:
“We believe strongly that the arts are being side lined in a case of ‘either/or’ and that there is a damaging narrative being propagated of funding for the arts being at the expense of vital front line services. The arts are essential in any society, but especially a society like ours recovering from conflict and trauma.
“Participation in the arts builds self-esteem and combats loneliness for children, young people and marginalised groups. The decline of support for the arts is saddening and alarming.
“We thank Belfast Harbour for their support and encourage other businesses to consider partnerships with arts organisations which can be mutually fulfilling and beneficial. Financial support and sponsorship is always welcomed, but it can also take the form of operational advice, expanded networking opportunities and governance support. In return commercial organisations can fulfil community objectives and enable their staff to gain valuable and rewarding volunteering experience."
Culture Night Belfast’s organisers expect a record 115,000 people will enjoy almost 300 events at over 100 different venues across the City. For more details visit www.culturenightbelfast.com