Culture Minister says arts should be for all

Department of Communities,
01 May 2014, Northern Ireland

The Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has said that it is vitally important that the arts is accessible to people from all backgrounds and cost-free where possible.

The Minister was speaking as she presented evidence to the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee Inquiry into ‘Inclusion in the Arts of working class communities.’

The Minister commended the Committee on holding this inquiry and said that she and her Department were committed to improve on participation and attendance levels in the arts amongst those from the most disadvantaged areas.

She said; ''Evidence of poverty, social exclusion and inequality are most common in areas of social deprivation and my Department’s primary focus is on promoting equality and tackling poverty and social exclusion. While there is some good community art provision, I believe that arts bodies need to get smarter at reaching out to communities and entering into partnerships with schools and community organisations to find a broader path to equality of access to arts for all.

''This is where I can help and a recent pilot where my Department has assisted the Ulster Orchestra in piloting an innovative approach to social inclusion in disadvantaged areas is just one example where communities previously disconnected from cultural pathways have seen new opportunities open up for them.''

The Minister also stressed the crucial role that schools can play in bringing the arts to a wider audience.

She said; ''Participation in the arts can build confidence and initiatives such as after-school film clubs, which my Department supports, are just one example of where positive interventions can enhance life chances for children and young people.''

''I can also point to the funding which my Department has provided to a small community based theatre company to allow them to take their compelling drama ‘Popping Candy’, which is about substance misuse, to a wide range of schools and how, through art, important life messages can be got across to young people.''