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14th Feb 2020 in Arts

Wednesday of this week saw the challenge laid down to Belfast City Council Regeneration & Growth Committee to explore the challenges faced by our City’s vibrant arts and cultural collectives.

Whilst longstanding public funding cuts to arts and culture sector is well documented, a collective response from the industry was raised over the missed opportunity to, not only facilitate investment in the infrastructure network that supports the creative industries and their employees, but also sustain momentum behind Belfast’s ambition for a vibrant and mixed economy.

As we enter a period of transition for the City Centre and the ‘reimaging of the High Street’ the case outlined by 18 grassroots arts organisations is incredibly pertinent.  Bricks and mortar retail is contracting and we need to encourage new uses and ideas for vacant space. Business incubators and pop-up events spaces are tried and tested, and work incredibly well.  However, as pointed out, continuing to house these organisations as temporary and transitional is not helping fulfil their true potential.

Flax Art Studios are currently based in the former UTV premises at Havelock House

Arts and Cultural partners hit so many of the targets set through the Programme for Government such as health and social inequalities, and the regeneration and connectivity between communities – the list goes on and on…

Cathedral Quarter is testament to the regenerative powers of Arts & Culture.  However, perhaps in hindsight more should be done to ensure they remain in situ and not succumb to commercial pressures.  As a BID we would advocate for a long-term sustainable position to be facilitated.

Destination Cathedral Quarter, as a Business Improvement District, has a mandated funding programme to ensure arts and cultural partners can avail of investment to make sure the annual calendar of events remain.  We are delighted to support the likes of the Black Box, Oh Yeah,  Belfast Children’s Festival, Tumble Circus, Festival of Fools, Culture Night & Day, and CQAF to name but a few. This is businesses directly recognising the value the arts and cultural sector bring to the area and to the City.

These are the intrinsically important features of a 21st Century City.  They directly improve the quality of life of a City that is wanting to grow.  They attract further investment and allow us to stand out as something special.

You can read the full press release here.

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