‘Arts community leads the way in cross-community spirit’ – Bradley
SDLP Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee member Dominic Bradley has said the arts community has the ability to show the rest of society how cross-community co-operation can thrive and make a huge contribution to the economy here.
He said: “There are those who consider the Arts to be an added luxury which can easily be dispensed with in times of financial hardship but the figures show clearly that the arts more than pay for themselves.
“Although government funding for the arts in Northern Ireland is the lowest in these islands at only £6.13 per head – every £1 invested by the Arts Council returns over £3.60 into the local economy and Arts funding maintains over 2,000 jobs.
“The arts have an important role in education – in creating teamwork and co-operation outside of the classroom setting, in exploring ideas which are difficult to confront in other settings, and in developing pupil’s self-expression and confidence.
Bradley continued, “Many art groups are cross-community in make-up and help dispel the stereotypical view that people here live and play apart. Some groups are single identity groups partly as a result of the demography of the districts they live in. Two thirds of arts activity supports cross-community participation.
“Whilst it would be wrong to burden the arts with the responsibility of solving our inter-community difficulties here they can have a role in encouraging a closer examination of society through media which are at a remove from reality, allow us to suspend disbelief and enter a world in which we can experience situations, events, and ideas which we may not be exposed to in everyday life.
He added, “We can take time out through the arts, have another look, or a closer look, and reflect on the whole experience either personally or in discussion with others.
“Many of our writers, poets, film-makers, musicians, playwrights, and actors, have given us another view, caused us to stand still and look again, confirmed our own experience, and challenged our ideas about ourselves and others.
“We need the arts to observe us, to enlighten us about ourselves, to encourage us to think again, to bring us tears, to lead us to laughter, and to leave us the richer for the experience they offer us. Long may they thrive.”